CrossFit Games Event Analysis: Gymnastics Could Be the Difference

October 14, 2020 by
Photo Credit: Kari Pearce (instagram.com/karipearcecrossfit)

The final workout category we analyze for the ten athletes moving on to the live stage of the 2020 CrossFit Games at the Ranch in Aromas, CA on Oct. 23-25 consists of events that test gymnastics ability. These workouts include any featuring handstand walks and ring muscle-ups.

The big picture: Dave Castro has programmed two workouts per year that test athletes’ gymnastics ability every year since 2016.

Gymnastics workouts: Since the 2016 Games, there have been nine workouts that test gymnastics. Four workouts have included handstand walks and this year’s online stage featured a “Handstand Hold” for the first time.

  • The 2016 Games featured two gymnastics workouts, the “The Separator” and a 280-foot “Handstand Walk.”
  • The 2017 Games featured two gymnastics workouts, the “Amanda .45” which included ring muscle-ups and the “Strongman’s Fear” which included handstand walks.
  • The 2018 Games featured two gymnastics workouts, “30 Muscle-Ups” and the “Handstand Walk” which included obstacles.
  • The 2019 Games featured two gymnastics workouts, “Second Cut” and “The Standard” which had 30 ring muscle-ups between “Grace” and “Isabel”.
  • The 2020 Games online stage had one workout that featured gymnastics, the “Handstand Hold”.

The details: Here are the average finishes in gymnastics workouts.

Men:

  • Mathew Fraser = 2.2
  • Noah Ohlsen = 6.7
  • Samuel Kwant = 18.5 (six events)
  • Jeffrey Adler = 32.5 (two events)
  • Justin Medeiros = 11 (one event)

Women:

  • Kari Pearce = 4.2
  • Katrin Davidsdottir = 7.5
  • Tia-Clair Toomey = 7.7
  • Brooke Wells = 12.1 (eight events)
  • Haley Adams = 10 (three events)
Photo Credit: Elite Fuel (instagram.com/elitefuel)

What we learn: Perhaps lost in his greatness over his Games career is just how good Fraser is in gymnastics. His closest competitor in this year’s field is Ohlsen who has averaged four spots behind him in those events. The women’s field is fairly close with all five women showing the potential to win in gymnastics-based workouts.

On the women’s side:

  • Pearce has turned her collegiate gymnastics experience at the University of Michigan into being the most complete athlete in these types of workouts. Her average placing of 4.2 is over three spots better than both Toomey and Davidsdottir. She has six top-five finishes in the nine gymnastics events and has never placed outside the top-ten. She is one of the few athletes that can hold her own against Davidsdottir in handstand walk workouts. In 2016 she was a close second to Davidsdottir in the 280-foot “Handstand Walk.” After Toomey, she is the best athlete on the rings, placing seventh in “30 Ring Muscle-Ups” at the 2018 Games.
  • If it’s a workout that puts Davidsdottir upside down on her hands then she’s probably the favorite. She leads the field with three event wins, all three of those workouts requiring her to be on her hands. She does struggle with high volume ring muscle-ups, placing 24th in Amanda .45, 15th in “30 Ring Muscle-ups” and ninth in “The Standard.”
  • Davidsdottir’s CompTrain teammate Wells is in the same boat when it comes to gymnastics workouts, highly skilled in workouts that require handstand walks and struggles on ring muscle-ups. She won the “Handstand Walk” event in 2018 that featured obstacles, placed second in “Second Cut” last year and third in the “Handstand Walk” in 2016. However in 2018 she also placed 38th in the “30 Ring Muscle-ups” and 33rd in Amanda .45 in 2017.
  • Toomey’s worst average placing in the events we have analyzed are in gymnastics but yet that average is 7.7 which ranks third in the field. She thrives on the rings, placing in the top-three in all four ring events with an event win in “The Standard” last year. In workouts that require handstand walks or holds, her average placing is 16 which is the worst in the field.
  • Adams is the wild card in the field as she doesn’t have the body of work that the other women have, but has the potential to be the most well-rounded gymnast of the group after Pearce. The 19-year old competed in gymnastics in her younger years and is comfortable on her hands and on the rings. She did well in gymnastics-based events in the teen division including a win in the Age Group version of the “Handstand Walk” in 2018.

On the men’s side:

  • Gymnastics Pays Off: When we think of how dominating Fraser has been over the last four years we often overlook the role that his gymnastics skill has played in that success. We picture the heavy barbells, the grueling couplets and chippers, even his running gets more attention than his gymnastics. However, through the four types of workouts we have analyzed, his placing is an astounding 2.2. His worst finish in the nine gymnastics workouts was a fourth place showing in the “Separator” at the 2016 Games. Since that event, he has strung together eight top-three finishes in gymnastics events including two event wins. He finished second to Ohlsen in the “Handstand Hold” by just two seconds.
  • Ohlsen is no slouch when it comes to gymnastics though. He has consistently placed in the top-ten including a second place showing in “The Standard” at last year’s Games finale and winning the “Handstand Hold” in this year’s online stage.
  • Though Kwant has an average placing of 18.5 in gymnastics workouts, he has shown great ability when he’s on his hands. He placed third in the “Handstand Hold” behind Ohlsen and Fraser and has top-ten finishes in workouts that include handstand walks including a ninth place in 2017’s “Strongman’s Fear” which had an accumulation of 300-feet of handstand walks.
  • The sample sizes for Adler and Medeiros are small in gymnastics workouts, but neither appear to challenge their counterparts seriously. In two Games gymnastics workouts Adler placed 38th in “Second Cut” at last year’s Games and 27th in the “Handstand Hold” in this year’s online stage.
  • Medeiros looks to be more comfortable on his hands than Adler and could surprise the field if there is a workout with shorter distances for the movement. He tied for 11th in the “Handstand Hold” and at the Filthy 150 Sanctional he placed sixth in a workout that included 65-foot handstand walks every two minutes while accumulating 1,000 meters on a ski-erg.

The bottom line: With the possibility of ten events during the three days of competition at the Ranch, expect to see at least one workout that tests gymnastics. Handstands were already featured in the online stage; will Castro include handstand walks? We think not, but we do see ring muscle-ups being involved since they were not included in stage one.

If that does indeed happen expect Fraser to do very well in those events with Ohlsen pushing him. On the women’s side, look for Toomey, Pearce and Adams to battle for the event win and the points.