A Brief History of CrossFit Games Special Invites and “Wildcards”
One of the many changes to the 2019 CrossFit Games Season was the advent of four individual “at-large bid” invites to compete at the Games.
Per Section 4.06 in the 2019 Rulebook: “CrossFit Inc. reserves the right to invite four individual athletes to compete at the Games. The means by which an athlete can earn one of the four at-large bids is solely up to CrossFit Inc.’s discretion.”
The first of these bids was offered to professional obstacle course racer Hunter McIntyre. This has brought a robust debate in the CrossFit Games community on how these at-large bids should be handed out.
The history: Special invites and “wildcard” spots to compete at the CrossFit Games are not a new phenomenon. Here is a look back at how they have been allocated in the past.
2007 and 2008 Games: There was not a qualification process for the first two CrossFit Games. Athletes just had to show up and compete.
2009 Games: Regionals were instituted after the large number of competitors in 2008 (119 men and 36 women competing Rx). The 18 Regionals allocated a differing number of Games spots per Regional. A “last chance online qualifier” for those who did not qualify at Regionals offered additional spots. Also, 2009 saw the first “special games invites” (bypass Regionals) given to the top 5 men and women from the 2008 Games along with special invites for the 2007 Games men’s and women’s Champions.
2010 Games: The top 5 men and women from the 2009 Games were offered special invites as well as the 2007 and 2008 Games Champions. Additionally, the 2009 Affiliate Cup Champions, Northwest CrossFit, were given a special invite.
2011 Games: The top 5 men and women from the 2010 Games were offered special invites along with the past Games Individual Champions. The 2010 Affiliate Cup Champions, CrossFit Fort Vancouver, were given a special invite. If one of the special invited athletes competed at Regionals and earned a qualifying spot, then an additional qualifying spot would be available in that Regional. This happened with Jason Khalipa and Annie Thorisdottir competing and winning their Regionals, thus opening up spots for Neal Maddox and Helga Torfadottir respectively.
Athletes and Teams to Watch this Weekend at the Granite Games and Lowlands Throwdown
There are only nine remaining CrossFit Games spots left to be determined, and six of them will be up for grabs this weekend at the Granite Games and CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown.
Time is running out if you’re an athlete still hoping to snag a spot, and the “who’s in and who’s out,” scenarios have been seemingly endless so far, but there are still some big names left without a ticket to Madison.
To help you navigate this weekend’s action here are some of the athletes and teams to keep your eye on who are still in the hunt for their place at the 2019 CrossFit Games.
Women to Watch
Granite Games: Rebecca Voigt Miller, Ehea Schuerch, Melissa Herman, Alison Scudds, Taylor Williamson and Andrea Nisler.
There are a ton of storylines to chew on at Granite, but none more significant than Rebecca Voigt Miller.
Voigt Miller is looking to qualify for her record-setting 11th CrossFit Games as an individual. An injury hindered her early season prep and Open performance, but now that she’s healthy she could make history in Minnesota. This will also be her first Sanctional competing in the elite division.
Schuerch finished 12th at Wodapalooza but has been relatively quiet since then, choosing only to do the Open where she placed 88th.
Herman earned a spot in the Open, then lost it after a penalty in 19.3 knocked her out of contention. She could potentially get a backfill spot from the MACC, and also has a chance to earn one outright at Granite Games.
Scudds is coming off a top five finish in Brazil in what was her first sanctional.
Williamson and Nisler are fresh off helping CrossFit OC3 win and earn a spot in the team competition at the Rogue Invitational, the teammates are competing as individuals and have the potential to shake things up despite having their team spot locked up.
Camille LeBlanc Bazinet and Dave Lipson have launched a Vlog. Follow them around Denver as Camille gets in a lifting session before Nationals, multi-tasks all the things like driving while eating and managing social media, and see how they make sure to get time to train together.
CrossFit Frankfort in Frankfort, KY, was the dream of Billie Jo Gannone’s husband. However, through a number of unexpected circumstances, Gannone now runs the box while her husband works in the police force. And the funny thing is, she hated CrossFit when she was first introduced to it.
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PRO-TIP: ROPE CLIMBS — Jason Khalipa outlines how to make your rope climbs most effective with one simple drill to improve efficiency off the floor.
SUPPORTING LOCAL VETS —CrossFit 061 in Granger, IN raised about $10,000 Monday for the Mishawaka VA, on Monday through donations gathered while doing Murph.
HANDSTAND WORKSHOP — CrossFit Muscle Beach in the Cayman Islands is holding a handstand workshop June 8 and again on June 9.
YOUTH PERFORMANCE PROGRAM — Left Coast Weightlifting Club in Laguna Niguel, CA is holding a youth performance camp June 24 – August 17 for athletes to perfect the use of the olympic movements (Snatch and Clean and Jerk) to help develop speed, strength, and coordination that will translate to any sport.
CHALK UP IN 2 MINUTES(a highlight reel around social media of CrossFit pros and average joes)
On Giving Time Lines to Your Fitness Expectations — Fuel Your Fitness coach Sarah Eiserman published a blog post on the expectations athletes sometimes have regarding reaching a goal by a certain time.
— “One of the most common questions I get asked as a nutrition coach is something along the lines of ‘How much weight can I expect to lose by this date?’ or ‘What kind of progress can I expect within a given amount of time?’ My answer is always the same, ‘I don’t know. It depends.’
— “I can tell you that if you commit to being consistent — not perfect — you will make progress. I can also tell you that your progress cannot be compared to any other person’s progress that I work with. There is no typical progress.”
Invictus Athlete Mitch Wagner on Being a Military Spouse — Mitch Wagner, whose wife serves in the U.S. Army, takes his job as a military spouse as seriously as he takes his CrossFit training.
— “The military has impacted my CrossFit career positively and negatively. We’ve met a lot of amazing people — lifelong friends, really — I’ve gained experience competing across the country. And it’s been hard to move so far away from my coach and figuring out training during the stress of moving.”
Of all the changes made to the CrossFit Games schedule and qualification process, the one that seems to have elicited the greatest amount of emotional reaction from the CrossFit community is the introduction of Wildcards. Four invitations to compete with and against the best CrossFit athletes in the world, free of charge, without ever having competed in the sport.
From the outset, it seems wrong and several high profile Games athletes have spoken out against it. Understandably, anyone who has dedicated themselves towards achieving something, especially something as challenging and seemingly impossible as qualifying for the CrossFit Games, would be upset to see someone else receive the same rewards for nothing.
Equally, being a “Games Athlete” is an awe-inspiring designation. A title that tells the world (at least the CrossFit world) that you are as good as it gets. As fit as it is possible to be. The introduction of Wildcard Games Athletes clearly dilutes and diminishes such claim (although arguably the invitations to hundreds of National Champions waters it down more — but that’s a story for another day).
However, taking a step back and looking at it from a broader long-term perspective, I believe these wildcards can be good for the Games, the sport and ultimately the athletes themselves.
More to the point, I think it is right.
The key rests in the title “The Fittest on Earth”. Winners of the CrossFit Games are not crowned “World CrossFit Champions”, but rather given a remarkably grandiose honor, one that to those outside the CrossFit world would seem like something the relative sporting newcomer has no right to proclaim.