Tommy Tackles The Open: 21.1

March 12, 2021 by
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
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The 2021 Open is officially underway, and to quote Samuel L. Jackson from the cinematic classic Jurassic Park: “Hold onto your butts.”

Thursday night’s 21.1 announcement kicked off the 11th year of the Open, and the first in a new era marked by new ownership, a new system, and a new (read: old) approach to the media coverage of the sport. 

Personally, this will be my 11th turn at the CrossFit Games Open, and my first as a newly minted masters athlete. As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, wait a decade until you age up into a masters category, then try again. 

  • Over the next three weeks, I’ll be chronicling my journey in the Open as both a journalist and mediocre athlete through the veil of humor and the classic CrossFit class structure we all know and love. 

The Warmup

Kari Pearce and Kristi Eramo were the first athletes to tackle 21.1 in the announcement broadcast, and it was certainly nice seeing a multi-faceted live broadcast return with all the familiar faces and bells and whistles that made the announcements must-watch events in the first place. 

  • More than 81,000 concurrent viewers watched the announcement and in less than 24 hours the announcement had over 480,000 views. A new branded desk, and video wall showcasing fans watching from all corners of the globe were nice additions to the rediagned CrossFit HQ hun that’s serving as the host location.

Dave Castro did not disappoint, revealing the workout with the methodical pacing and questionable syntax that has become his trademark, and including a new movement that I would bet all of King Midas’ silver that no one saw coming.

  • The inclusion of wall walks in 21.1 — a movement rarely utilized in most gyms programming — guarantees that its google search rate went up 10,000% along with the number of holes kicked into apartment walls by coaches tasked with getting their strategy guides out before Friday.

The Workout

21.1 has Kari Pearce’s name written all over it, and despite Eramo-O’Connell hanging close through the early rounds, the sheer volume of 55 wall walks meant the woman who has been training upside down on her hands since the age of three would win out eventually.

  • Eramo-O’Connell getting time-capped was a rude awakening for many in the community that may have otherwise scoffed at wall walks as a formidable movement or the 15 minute time cap potentially being a factor. If a multi-year top-10 finisher at the Games gets timecapped, then a vast majority of the community will too. 
  • I spoke with Pearce afterwards who revealed that she had maybe done 50 wall walks total during her CrossFit career, warmups and skill sessions included, which only points to how tremendous she is when it comes to gymnastics and shoulder strength. 

Adrian Bozman, Rory Mckernan, and Dave Castro did the workout after the show, and while I will not reveal who won, I will say this: at one point Castro came off the wall, only to proudly proclaim after being asked where he was that he was finishing the round of 12. 

  • The problem is there is no round of 12, and the man who literally programmed the workout was so discombobulated by the volume of wall walks by the round of nine that he forgot where was in the workout and somehow created a non-existent round. 

I had the pleasure of tackling the workout alongside my constituent Sean “The Voice” Woodland. Both of us are over 6’0’’ tall, over 200 pounds, and are card-carrying members of the “Rigshakers Club,” so this workout was not in our wheelhouse.

  • After finishing our turns at 21.1 we both agreed that finding a set cadence as far as technique and hand movement throughout the wall walk, and setting hard and fast micro-goals in whichever of the two movements (or both if applicable) gives you the most trouble. 
  • For me it was the wall walks, and in the round of nine I focused on a 3-2-2-2 breakdown of reps and it allowed me to solely focus on the next small batch of reps and not worry about the total amount that I was woefully chipping away at. I managed to only break my double unders once, and finish the 150 unbroken. 
  • I hit my goal of making it into the round of 21 wall walks, and considering I am built like an octopus with a 6’8” wingspan and a 37” inseam I was happy with the result and hopefully it is enough to keep me within earshot of the top 10%.

The Cool Down

I think Castro and the Games team knocked this one out of the park. Given the conditions of the world right now there are a few things that I feel should be the priority for the week one workout: inclusivity (also read: accessibility) for the broader community, simplicity of structure to ease the burden on affiliates, and enough meat on the bone for there to be separation amongst athletes of all fitness levels.

  • 21.1 checks all of those boxes while also introducing a new movement into the programming fold that I would imagine will get a lot more love in the daily programming of affiliates worldwide from here on out. 

Good luck with 21.1, be safe, roll out those shoulders, and do not be afraid to embrace scaling if getting upside down is a stretch for your fitness journey at this point. 

See you in week two.

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