Give CrossFit a Big Win for Introducing Quarterfinals, say Athletes, Coaches, and Gym Owners

April 15, 2021 by
Courtesy of Cori Clark: https://www.instagram.com/cococlarissa/
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Cori Clark admits she was bummed when CrossFit LLC removed the Regionals format in 2019 and replaced it with Sanctionals, as she had reached a level where qualifying to Regionals was a realistic goal for her. 

During the next two seasons, the 29-year-old Clark competed in the Open knowing it would be the end of her CrossFit season. All of that changed this year with the introduction of Quarterfinals.

  • “It has given people like me, who maybe don’t do CrossFit full-time, a chance to strive for something and compete, and it gave us an opportunity to do some of those higher level movements,” said Clark, a coach at CrossFit Gambit in St. Louis, MO. “And for some of our younger athletes — we have a bunch of 19 year olds at our gym — it gives them a new outlet and a reason to train hard,” she added. 

Clark’s Quarterfinal experience: Though Clark did better than she expected, placing 435th in North America, she insists her favorite memory of the first ever Quarterfinals weekend was how everyone at her gym came together to support their athletes.

  • “People who weren’t competing were there helping judge or setting up videos. It was just a really cool experience. It reminded me of the Regional days when we would have 20 people travel to Regionals,” she said. “It was a really cool experience coming from all angles.”
  • This year COVID protocols prevented the gym from being packed with supporters, but she expects that next year it will be an even bigger and better community event. 
Courtesy of Cori Clark: https://www.instagram.com/cococlarissa/

Clark isn’t alone: Many other gym owners who had athletes participating in the Quarterfinals last weekend agreed they were a big win, both for the sport of CrossFit and for the community at large. 

  • “We loved it. We had multiple athletes complete it...I think it’s a great addition…It feels like a true season again, and I’m pumped to see what (CrossFit LLC) has in store for next year,” said Jeremy Brassard of Armor CrossFit in Apopka, FL.
  • Quarterfinals is a “great carrot for those pretty fit folks,” said Cam Birtwell, the owner of CrossFit Vic City in Victoria, B.C. “We got six in, with a few just outside. They really bonded around it as it wasn’t a public thing (because of COVID), but if it could be, it would be an even better experience for the community, he said, adding that Quarterfinals, should be here to stay, and “will make people train harder through the year.”
  • “It has been awesome and has definitely lit the fire for many to train harder for next year,” mimicked Geoff Kesler, the owner of CrossFit Owasso in OK. “I have several athletes who have made it a goal to make the top 10 percent next year…I think it’s a good thing for CrossFit.”

One big thing: While many gyms were under strong COVID restrictions this year, for CrossFit Mill Street in Vienna, VA, Quarterfinals couldn’t have come at a better time, providing other gyms a glimpse of what Quarterfinals can look like in 2022. 

  • “Some of the state guidelines had just been changed, allowing for larger groups to gather indoors and outdoors. We jumped at the opportunity to get some Friday Night Lights vibes back in the gym,” said owner Mike Corcoran. “Our membership showed up with lawn chairs, pick up trucks and beverages to watch and cheer on the athletes. I think it added at least 20 pounds to everyone’s four-rep front squat, and that’s not a joke.” The community assembled in the gym parking lot to watch through the open bay doors as Mill Street’s athletes took on the first tests of Quarterfinals.
  • He added: “I love the addition of the Quarterfinals. Taking the top 10% of athletes gives so many more people a chance to advance and take on the next test. I think it will increase athlete motivation across the board to improve and conquer weakness. The workouts were a brutal reminder of what it takes to excel in the sport. As a gym owner, you don’t want to see your athletes completely fail, but maybe just enough to make them come back hungrier. The Quarterfinals did that.”

The big picture: For many years, Regionals were a realistic goal for many part-time, very fit athletes, and an opportunity for affiliate communities to come together and support the fittest athletes at their boxes. But as the sport became more and more competitive, the Open became the only competition CrossFit LLC had to offer to these still very fit athletes. 

  • Despite COVID restrictions still being in place in many areas of the world, Quarterfinals 2021 brought the wind back in the sails of so many capable athletes in the community who know the CrossFit Games are out of their reach, but still want something challenging to strive for. And, as always, their gym communities stepped up and supported them every step of the way. 

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