The History Of The Last Chance Qualifier

June 30, 2021 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit
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Starting this Friday the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) stands as the final qualifying event of the 2021 CrossFit Games season, with four total spots to be decided over the course of four events. 

In the minds of most fans, the LCQ presents a new addition to the CrossFit Games season that offers athletes a chance at redemption in earning their spot to the big show. For the more seasoned CrossFitter, the 2021 LCQ is a “2.0,” iteration of a competition stage that broke new ground for the sport over a dozen years ago. 

Flashback: The 2009 CrossFit Games season brought on a host of new elements to the table. For the first time athletes would be required to qualify for the Games through a single stage of Regionals like the Great Basin, Dirty South, and “Hell’s Half Acre” Regional competitions. 

  • The CrossFIt community was significantly smaller — the worldwide affiliate total had just eclipsed 500 for the first time earlier in the year — and with the sport in year three, organizers effectively had carte blanche to create the flow of competition for a comprehensive season foundation to build on.

In addition to the 65 plus athletes that qualified through the in-person Regional competitions, a new concept was announced late in the season that would provide a backup options for athletes that underperformed, were hurt, or were unable to compete as a part of the large contingent of military service men and women that were overseas: the Last Chance Online Qualifier.

The details: The Last Chance Online Qualifier consisted of three workouts – each selected from the programming slate of a Regional earlier that year – that had to be performed in a 24 hour time span, in any order the athlete chooses. 

  • Athletes had to submit their scores with video and the official workout announcement happened at 6:00 AM PT on May 30, 2009, meaning scores had to be submitted by the same time the following day on May 31.

Workout 1 — From the Mid Atlantic Regional Qualifier
3 Rounds for time of:
10 Deadlifts (275lbs/185lbs)
50 Double-unders

Workout 2 — From the Canada West Regional Qualifier
“Jackie”
1K Row
50 Thrusters (45lb barbell)
30 Pull-ups

Workout 3 — From the Northeast Regional Qualifier
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 3, 2, 1 reps for time of:
Power Cleans (155lbs/105lbs)
Pull-ups (Chest to Bar)
KB Swings (24kg/16kg – A 55lb/35lb dumbbell can be substituted if no kettlebell is available)

Worth noting: The original announcement article garnered 74 comments including various questions from athletes and potential competitors that were answered by then Director of Media Tony Budding, who provided rules, video, and standards verification via the comments section.

The Results: Five men and five women ultimately earned their way to the Games through the Last Chance Online Qualifier, and a special exemption was made for Infantry CPT Steve Smith, who was on a tour in Baghdad, Iraq with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

  • 1st Place: Linda Leipper, Peter Egyed.
  • 2nd Place: Tommy Hackenbruck, Ashley Smith.
  • 3rd Place: Danielle Dionne, Spencer Hendel.
  • 4th Place: Mike Giardina, Jill DiGiampaolo.
  • 5th Place: Kallista Pappas, Charlie Dunifer.
  • Special exemption: CPT Steve Smith. 

The big picture: The Last Chance Online Qualifier would only last one year, but the batch of athletes it provided opportunities for at the Games in 2009 gave plenty of credence to its inclusion based on their performance alone. 

  • Tommy Hackenbruck would go on to finish 2nd at the Games in a surprising performance, launching a fruitful career in the sport that included four individual appearances, three team appearances (and podium finishes), and back-to-back affiliate cup titles.
  • Peter Egyed would finish 6th at the Games, and follow it up with another top 10 performance as an individual at the 2010 CrossFit Games.
  • Spencer Hendel would finish 12th, embarking a long and fruitful career in the sport and community. Hendel would qualify for the Games seven more times, and notch top five finishes as both an individual (2015) and on the Reebok CrossFit ONE team (2017).
  • Danielle Dionne would finish 37th and go on to compete as an individual at Regionals multiple times as and individual and team member, qualifying for the 2017 CrossFit Games on the CrossFit Balance team.
  • Jill DiGiampaolo would finish 26th and has continued to compete since, completing the Open and the Age Group Online Qualifier in the 40-44 division in 2021, and finishing a career best 18th worldwide in the Open in 2019. 

The bottom line: Sometimes things do not go your way in the arena of sports, and sometimes all it takes is one more opportunity for an athlete to catch fire and make the most of that opportunity by turning it into something much bigger. This weekend’s LCQ is precisely that opportunity, the first one the sport has seen in over a decade, and if there is anything the athletes in our sport have taught us, is that this weekend could be a launchpad for the two women and two men that step up to the plate. 

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