“My heart rate got up higher on that that it has on any other CrossFit event. You don’t know what to expect.”
- Those words from a Games veteran like Alec Smith would be music to the ears of anyone in charge of programming.
- This was the debrief we had after event one at the Australian CrossFit Championship, but the organizers can’t take all the credit for “Flags,” a traditional test of speed, agility and strategy in Surf Lifesaving.
Quick Recap: The Australian CrossFit Championship follows the lead of several Sanctionals that have introduced culturally significant implements this season. Check out our in-depth analysis.
What the athletes had to say: The ACC kept the tradition strong with everything from Surf Lifesaving caps to a World Champions Flags commentator calling the heats.
- On paper, Alec Smith is known for his speed off the mark but finished 19th in Event 1: “I just tripped both times, I’m a little disappointed…I didn’t really get to practice too much…It was fun, it was quick, it’s cool having a contact sport in CrossFit.”
- Brandon Swan was also cut early: “Getting ready for cuts at the CrossFit Games you know…” he laughed. “When you’ve done these things as long as I have you’re a bit over thrusters and pullups…You’ve got to make sure you don’t make any mistakes if you’re slow off the sand, or trip on the sand.”
- Kara Saunders fell into that boat, being cut in the first round, which she said hasn’t happened since the CrossFit Games 2015: “Miscommunication on the head down head up…” she told subscribers to her channel. “I didn’t even really have a chance, cut the first one.”
- Female winner Abby Ashton told the Morning Chalk Up her background in
“Nippers” and similar Surf Lifesaving training paid dividends.
What the pros thought of CrossFitters efforts: Mike Tomlin was the official referee from the Kurruwa Surf Club: “You wouldn’t have picked the difference, they listened to instructions, they’re no different to what I’ve been doing every weekend for the past 30 years.”
How it played out on the leaderboard: There has been some discussion about how these “new” less-traditional CrossFit events should be scored in sanctioned competitions. Those dominating the competition in the events following “Flags” — James Newbury, Bayden Brown, Kara Saunders and Maddie Sturt — were absent from the event one finals. This raises the question of whether such a specialist event should be evenly weighted on the scoreboard.
The ACC chose to give 100 points to the winner of Flags, just like any other event over the weekend. In the past, we’ve seen events like the on-water-rowing at Strength in Depth scaled to be less valuable than more traditional CrossFit programming.
- Chad Kackert
- Jay Crouch
- Lars Kristensen
- Abby Ashton
- Leish Martin
- Nicola Borgatti
While we’ve never seen “Flags” per se, there’s been a beach and open water event at every CrossFit Games since 2011 — except 2013, where athletes swam in the pool.
What sets “Flags” apart is the fact that previously all beach events have involved going in the water.
We’ve also seen the “rescue sleds” used by individuals at the 2015, 2018 and 2019 Games. Teams have used them multiple times including an individual paddleboard for each athlete in 2019.
On the sand, we’ve seen running, kettlebell thrusters and burpees, teams have even deadlifted the worm before on the beach.
The verdict: The atmosphere was high and even those cut early were still in good spirits about this cultural inclusion in the ACC programming.
We applaud organizers for including the local surf club in the event and for bringing the first two workouts on the Gold Coast outside the Convention Centre arena.
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