The most highly anticipated sanctioned event of the year kicks off this weekend as the Rogue Invitational takes place in Columbus, Ohio. The two-day competition – which takes place in Rogue’s brand new event facility built for the event – features the second largest prize purses of any event this season: $400,000.
What’s at stake: The biggest prize for 2015 Games champion Ben Smith has nothing to do with money, but extending his streak of consecutive individual Games appearances to 11.
There are two all-time records at play: the record for consecutive individual CrossFit Games appearances, the record for most individual appearances all-time.
- Starting in 2009, Smith has qualified for a record 10 consecutive individual appearances at the CrossFit Games, he has the chance to extend his record to 11 at Rogue.
- If he fails to do so, the next athlete behind him on the consecutive streak list is Camille Leblanc-Bazinet with 9, and her streak will be ending this year due to her going team with ROMWOD/WIT.
- After Leblanc-Bazinet, the next highest active streak would be Scott Panchik, who just qualified for his 8th consecutive appearance dating back to 2012.
- If Smith qualifies he’ll also set the record for the most appearances with 11, breaking a three-way tie with Becca Voigt, and Annie Thorisdottir. Thorisdottir recently qualified for her 10th Games this season.
- Becca Voigt has the chance to earn a spot to her 11th Games as well later this season when she competes at the Granite Games, but Smith has the chance to be the first to eclipse the 10 year mark.
What are his chances?
Smith has a great chance to walk away with another ticket to Games by weekends end despite the fact that he’s been on the mend from a (relatively minor) knee surgery just prior to the Open. His recent 340-lb overhead squat in nanos and no knee sleeves point towards a solid recovery.
For starters, more than half the field he’ll be competing against already has spot.
- Twelve of the 19 other men competing have already qualified, meaning Smith technically only has to beat out the other seven men. For an athlete with four CrossFit Games podiums and a gold medal, those are great odds.
Additionally, Smith will benefit greatly from the broader, higher level of programming expected at Rogue. The new facility and fact that Rogue has all of the Games gear it creates on hand means that there will be events and elements (odd objects anyone?) more in-line with the Games, which is where Smith shines.
Mix in Smith’s experience with over 100 events at the Games under his belt, and he’ll be right at home lining up next to an all-star cast in the midst of the magnitude and spectacle of the event. It’s an atmosphere that could swallow up the greener athletes in the field.
Anytime history is on the line it’s worth a watch, but when you mix in the legacy of a legend and champion like Ben Smith in a setting as grand as Rogue it’s worth checking the event schedule, and setting an alarm on your phone to tune in.