CrossFit Games

Dave Castro Talks Stage One and What to Expect at the Ranch And Beyond

September 23, 2020 by
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A few days removed from the first ever online stage of the CrossFit Games final, Director of Sport, Dave Castro joined the Talking Elite Fitness podcast to reflect on the weekend’s competition and the effort by his team, as well as the current status of the sport moving forward.

One big thing: Castro appeared on the podcast nearly three months ago amidst a charged socio-political landscape within the CrossFit community and company, and the difference in demeanor and outlook was evident.

  • Support from the top: Castro reiterated his relief around the support he was getting from new owner Eric Roza and his team, and stated his excitement about the new horizons he believed it could take the entire ecosystem to.
  • It’s great, it’s amazing, we’ve never had that in the Games department to put it lightly, we’ve never had such a booster, and a supporter….it’s obviously very visibly the Games, but it’s everything CrossFit, and that’s what’s cool to see. He cares about the affiliates, he cares about the training, he wants all aspects of CrossFit to grow, and he’s empowering every area to grow to its full potential.

Fairness comes first: The biggest driving factor for all of the decisions made surrounding stage one logistics and format was the fairness of whatever test and format was going to be laid out for the athletes competing.

  • Castro explained that one of the first major decisions made was to not hold a similar format to the Rogue Invitational where athletes competed simultaneously. The time difference between athletes would put some at a significant disadvantage performance-wise and hamper the validity of the test.
  • Judge’s decision: Castro also revealed that one element of his programming decision was to utilize movements that are easier to judge and don’t inherently carry a ton of gray area when considering no reps. The move puts judges in a better position to be effective which in turn provides a more fair and even playing field for the athletes.

Results driven: Castro provided some insight into his reflections on how the programming played out and how some of the top performances stacked up when compared to his expectations.

  • “These guys really crushed the scores we tested, I expected Friendly Fran to not be in the low threes, but rather the low fours, and Damn Diane I expected to be in the lower fives, not as fast as it was.”
  • “The average times were pretty spot on for what we were looking at, it’s always that way with the Games, we program workouts, we test workouts, and very rarely do people in the testing do better than they did at the Games.”
  • The lone exception: Castro revealed that the one time testing overperformed what when two-time individual Games qualifier Julian Alcaraz tested Fibonacci Final and put up a score that would have been a top time.
  • Interestingly enough, as much as the outlier scores at the top of the leaderboard impressed him (490-lb front squat anyone?), when prompted about what results stood out he was equally intrigued by “the trainwreck performances,” which only confirms our suspicions that he feeds off the tears of his vanquished opponents.

Negative is positive: Being the Director of Sport and main programmer for the Games means that Castro is no stranger to criticism or naysayers, but when asked about those who might question the validity of the test, he was open-minded about critics’ place in the sport and the opposing opinions about the test.

  • On anyone questioning the test: “That’s fair. I don’t believe it, but it’s fair to say any of these things aren’t a good test because it’s opinion, it’s a necessary narrative to create discussion.
  • On programming the handstand hold: “I think it’s a really good test, I think it’s an appropriate test, but I’m also open to people not appreciating it as a test.”
  • What he’d change: There was discussion all weekend about the length of the first four tests of day one and their brevity, and during the podcast Castro posited that in retrospect he’d probably have pushed the length of the rowing in event 4 to be longer and fit in a slightly longer time duration to balance things out.

Looking forward: Castro wasn’t coy about what fans of the sport can expect for stage two of the Games in Aromas and expressed some excitement about the sport beyond October. While he wouldn’t give away much in terms of details, he did express some of his thought process behind the early plans for next season.

  • On stage two at the Ranch: “We always put a premium on the viewer experience, as much as we can at the Games on the visual side to show the race and to lay out the floor. When you look at this stage it was athlete experience (prioritized over) viewer experience. When we get to Games (stage 2) we strive to have both of them really high, and I think with this year’s Games you’ll see that, and they’ll see that, and with this reduced field, that’s even more reason why the viewer experience should be much better and higher.”
  • Regarding the 2021 season, Castro revealed that the foundational structure and ideas of what the new structure would look like next year (and the foreseeable future) had been shared with Sanctional event owners, the Professional Fitness Athletes Association, CrossFit’s athlete advisory council, and brand partners, and stated that the feedback has been positive. He also stated that the new system would be scalable and factor in participation for representation as far as events go to encourage growth going forward.

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