New Technologies Paying Big Dividends at Sanctionals
Everyone likes a great finish, and if you caught the action at Wodapalooza this past weekend in person or through the live stream, you witnessed some of the most exciting finishes of the 2020 Sanctional season. Those finishes were highlighted by sprints across the finish line to hit the Throwdowns timing buzzer, one of the newest innovations in the sport.
One big thing: As Sanctionals have expanded in size and scope in year two, so has the demand for new technologies and systems that not only make the scoring process easier for competition directors but also provide fans in attendance and watching online a better and more exciting viewing experience.
- Competition Corner and new scoring company Throwdowns have been at the forefront of providing Sanctionals scoring support. Both have introduced new scoring programs and features for Sanctionals as well as continuing to develop even better methods for live scoring.
- Throwdowns has made waves with their version of the timing buzzer first introduced at the Asia CrossFit Championship. The Franklin, TN based company created their version of the buzzer and introduced it along with their live scoring and broadcast kit at the Mayhem Classic in January.
- Wodapalooza tapped Throwdowns to bring their timing buzzer to Miami, FL and it proved to be the deciding factor in determining the elite team division winners as well as which female competitor would get an invite to the 2020 CrossFit Games. In each instance, the result was decided in the final event by who pressed their button first. Both were decided by less than one second each.
- Competition Corner recently announced a strategic partnership with Scoring Kairos that will increase the ability of people to follow and track competing athletes’ performances from start to finish. Scoring Kairos is the industry leader in integrating Concept2 equipment to scoring systems.
The future of scoring: Last Sanctional season, Competition Corner handled the registration and scoring for 11 of the 15 events. So far this season they have provided coverage for six of the first eight Sanctionals including Wodapalooza and will service more than three-fourths of all events this season. With the rapid growth of CrossFit Sanctionals worldwide, Competition Corner has seen the demand for its services increase.
- Founder Michael Huynh: “The net effect of the Sanctional events has been positive for our company. We’ve seen an increase of events in regions we didn’t know existed. We’ve expanded to 71 countries (up from 54 last year). We’re seeing athletes from 197 countries throwing down at the over 3,000 events hosted on our platform each year. That impact has definitely touched all points in the company in terms of employees, infrastructure and how we deliver our product and services.”
New demands, new systems: As these competitions have expanded throughout the globe both Competition Corner and Throwdowns have quickly adapted to provide around-the-clock customer service support as well as the ability to translate their platforms into the language needed for that particular event. They have listened to their customers’ feedback and have been able to develop more features to their current systems and even create new ones.
- “The sport is heading into a more technology-driven space,” said James Hurlburt, Business Development Manager for Throwdowns. “So it’s natural for this to come up. We didn’t force this, the market pulled it out of us. We just responded to that.”
- Throwdowns will make its next appearance at the CrossFit Italian Showdown in April, while Competition Corner has been working on real-time GPS trackers for athletes as well as heart rate monitors that show an athlete’s vitals on a broadcast.
- “As workouts become more elaborate and go beyond the competition floor, we’ll need to introduce different technologies that can deliver real-time GPS tracking of athletes on a large format course,” said Competition Corner’s Huynh. “We’ll want to see wearables delivering athlete vitals on their output and energy expenditure during a workout.”
Bottom line: When it comes to live-scoring in a real-time broadcast, people want Games level production. However, those features are expensive and Sanctional organizers are not yet able to generate or justify spending that much money to put forth a production level on par with the Games. The Games itself cut back dramatically in their production costs, as evidenced by the worldwide feed last year. It takes companies like Competition Corner and Throwdowns to develop innovative and cheaper options so they can give consumers what they want.
- “The big topic is how can a Sanctional deliver a Games quality production within a limited budget,” said Huynh. “Our goal is to deliver the tools they need to not only match a ‘Games’ level production but also establish a new benchmark and at a much lower cost.”
- “Delivering live scoring isn’t the limiting factor at the moment,” said Huynh. “It’s budget and resource on the event side. We hope to remove that burden from the event organizers through this initiative and hopefully make this the standard for all events moving forward.”
- “This is all new,” said Hurlburt. “Only at the Games do you see scoring at this caliber and it’s from the front-end all the way to the broadcast. We want to provide that for Sanctional events and even more for the fans who want the technology and the ability to see everything play out on the floor and not wonder if they are missing anything.”