Breaking: CrossFit Announces Individual Semifinal Placements and Athlete Seeding Protocol
With one month remaining until Semifinal action kicks off this season, we now know the details surrounding individual athlete placement and seeding for the 10 Semifinal events. CrossFit made a formal announcement late Wednesday afternoon, revealing the full athlete rosters for each event.
One big thing: With North America being the only continent with multiple events to also hold live competition, the most important question was how athletes from North America would be placed in accordance with the constantly evolving restrictions globally. CrossFit included the following details in their explanation of the process:
- “The top 10 male and female athletes in North America were given their first choice of Semifinal event,” and “based on this selection process, the overwhelming majority of athletes in North America were given their first or second choice of Semifinal.”
- “Athletes living in the same state as an event were placed at that event (unless their first choice was elsewhere).”
- “All athletes qualifying out of Canada and Mexico were placed in the online Atlas Games to accommodate travel restrictions related to COVID-19.”
- “Remaining athletes were placed in events based on a combination of factors, including their stated preferences, Quarterfinal leaderboard positions, and past Games performances to ensure an equitable distribution of the competitive field.”
Additionally there were six athletes worldwide that were deemed unable to attend their originally determined Semifinal event due to COVID travel restrictions, with four-time reigning CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey headlining the bunch. In each instance, the athletes were placed in a nearby virtual event.
- Toomey and Emma Chapman were moved from their original event — the Torian Pro — and placed in the Atlas Games
- Carla Henriet, and Tafadzwa Mushandu were moved from the Fittest in Cape Town to the Atlas Games as well.
- Christina Livaditakis and Lee Keyrouz were moved from the Fittest in Cape Town to the Asia Invitational (Livaditakis), and Lowlands Throwdown (Keyrouz) respectively.
Due to the small number of displaced athletes, CrossFit also announced that there will not be a Catch-All Virtual Semifinal since all the athletes were able to be placed in a manner that they deemed fair and equitable.
Moving Toomey is clearly a big deal as it will undoubtedly deepen the talent pool of any event and presumably take a Games qualifying spot from whichever event she ends up at.
- To this effect CrossFit announced that “any event that has an athlete from another continental region competing will get four spots at the Last-Chance Qualifier instead of the original three.”
There is precedent for Games invites to be adjusted based on the presence of one or more past Champions in a particularly deep competitive field during a qualifying stage. Most notably in 2012 and 2013 at the Central East Regional where both Rich Froning and Graham Holmberg competed.
- In 2012 both Froning and Holmberg finished in a qualifying position and additional invites were extended to Scott Panchik and Marcus Hendren through what was known colloquially as the “past champions rule.”
- A similar situation played out in 2013 and in both instances the right call was made as all five athletes finished inside the top 10 at the Games in 2012, and four of the five did so in 2013, with Holmberg being the lowest finisher at 14th place.
The bottom line: Whatever the protocol used for 2021 was likely meant to be a temporary solution given the obstacles of the pandemic, and hopefully next season a more permanent solution can be put in place for the sport to build on for the future.