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CrossFit Athletes React to 2023 Season Changes

Morning Chalk Up

October 13   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • CrossFit vets comment on new season structure: “I personally loved the Regionals days”
  • Rogue Invitational men’s field preview and breakdown
  • Return to Regionals? Deep dive into CrossFit’s new look and if this is a step in the right direction
  • Looking at the Birmingham Crossplex, the next venue to host the CrossFit Games
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  CrossFit Games Veterans Offer Mixed Reactions to 2023 Season Changes  

CrossFit Games Veterans Offer Mixed Reactions to 2023 Season Changes

On Tuesday, CrossFit HQ announced various changes to the 2023 season, the most notable one arguably being a return to what can only be described as the Regionals days of the past, where CrossFit operates the competition, and where programming is standardized across the board.

That being said, this season CrossFit is operating the two North American competitions, as well as the one in Europe, however, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America will continue to be run by outside organizers (albeit with standardized programming), something 10-time CrossFit Games athlete Kara Saunders said “is ridiculous.”

“From past experiences in these Semifinals, I know that leaving it to an outside organizer exposes athletes to the potential of an unfair competition, both with programming and the treatment of certain athletes,” Saunders said.

“I’m pretty sick of Australia always being disregarded as a major country in this sport. The greatest female athlete to exist in the sport is Australian, and to be honest the only way she was ever going to be recognized as she deserves was for her to move to the U.S,” she continued.

Saunders added: “I personally loved the Regionals days, knowing that there was uniformity across the world.”

What others are saying: Four-time podium finisher Patrick Vellner said he will largely “reserve judgment for now,” but said at first glance he said it seems the changes “look like they will simplify and speed up the season which is nice.”

  • He added: “I think there are winners and losers with every change…There’s no perfect system, but I think the fittest will find a way as usual.”
  • Four-time Games athlete Jeff Adler said the one thing he isn’t sure he’s into is there being only two North American regions. “That’s the weird part for me. 60 competitors instead of 30. I don’t know how that will work. That means (the) top 10 will advance to the Games. It’s less special to do a top 10 than a top 5,” he said.
  • For others, such as nine-time Games athlete Noah Ohlsen, the changes don’t mean a whole lot, as it’s business as usual for him. “Not too much emotion evoked from these changes…(Because) the structure changes every season, I’m getting used to the switch ups,” he said.
  • Ohlsen added: “I dig the standardized programming. Just hope it’s more classic CrossFit and a little less experimental than the Games this year.”
  • Underdogs Athletics coach Justin Cotler agrees: “I think having standardized programming makes it very easy to compare athletes from different semis across the world, which is essential for rankings. And if you look at programming for the season as one continuous story, the Open can flow into Quarters and then into Semis and then the Games in one cohesive narrative ultimately culminating with the Fittest in the world on the podium,” he said, adding that he’s also hoping that having only two North America events and one European one will allow for a significant increase in Semifinals prize purses as well as spectator attendance.

One big thing: What does have to be seen as a positive change is how early CrossFit has released this information as compared to other seasons. It’s something seven-time Games athlete Brent Fikowski pointed out that he appreciates, as it makes planning out his year easier.

  • “It is great that we’ve been told well in advance to complete workouts at an affiliate or be expected to produce a public video. For someone like me that mostly trains at home it gives me a lot of time to plan to either complete them at a nearby affiliate or prep my home gym for high quality filming,” he said.
  • He added: “I really like that once the Semifinals dates are announced, every athlete in the world will know when and where they will be competing…It was hard for athletes in Europe and North American to play their life around the competition season when they were sorted to their Semifinal only after the Quarterfinals were completed in 2021 and 2022.”

Worth noting: CrossFit also said to stay tuned to hear more  about “worldwide rankings.” So far no other context has been provided, but the teaser did enough to pique both Fikowski and Cotler’s interest.

  • “I’m very excited to learn more about the world ranking and how that will be utilized throughout the season. If executed correctly it could add a lot of value to the season,” Fikoswki offered.
  • Cotler, too, is said he’s curious about how the “ranking system” will play out and “what type of influence the rankings have on qualifying spots,” he said.

The big picture: While some athletes are digging this year’s changes, and others aren’t so sure, if there’s one thing all athletes in the sport of CrossFit need to accept is that change is constant, and no season is ever the same as the last. But despite this year’s changes, as Vellner pointed out, “the fittest will find a way.”

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In case you missed it: Lauren Kalil, the host of The Bottom Line, spoke to Dex Hopkins and Brent Fikowski about the breaking news that CrossFit will be taking the Games to Birmingham, AL for the 2024-27 season.

Tune in tomorrow: Coffee Break Conversations kicks off at 2pm CT — our live, weekly deep-dive with an industry expert, exclusive to RX members. We’ll be chatting with CEO of Caffeine and Kilos, entrepreneur and podcaster, Danny Lehr, about how to choose the right place to invest your time and money.

Rogue teaser: If this strongman-styled event is going to be at the 2022 Rogue Invitational, please sign us up, as this will definitely be a fan favorite.

TV love: CBS 42 out of Birmingham has a piece on the report that Birmingham will host the CrossFit Games come 2024 and cites Morning Chalk Up as their source.

  Rogue Invitational: Men’s Field Preview  


Rogue Invitational: Men’s Field Preview

We are less than three weeks away from the top CrossFit athletes taking the field at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, TX for the fourth iteration of the Rogue Invitational. The premiere offseason competition will take place October 28-30 with a total prize purse of over $1,250,000 on the line including a current payout of $215,000 for the winner of each division.

This year’s competition features the top-15 NOBULL CrossFit Games finishers from the men’s division. This marks the first time that the Invitational has gathered all the top-15 for their competition making this year’s field the most competitive yet.

We have looked over and analyzed the field and have grouped them into four categories for us to review where we think they could finish.

Continue Reading...
  Rogue Invitational: Men’s Field Preview  

Return of Regionals?! Are Changes to Season Structure a Positive Direction for CrossFit?

We may not have all the answers yet, but we have a first look at the changes for the 2023 CrossFit Games season structure. Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil sits down with Dex Hopkins and Brent Fikowski to break down the significant changes for the individual field, some questions it raises, and whether this is ultimately the right direction they want to see the sport headed.

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  Birmingham CrossPlex: 750,000 Square Feet of Possibilities for the 2024 CrossFit Games  

Birmingham CrossPlex: 750,000 Square Feet of Possibilities for the 2024 CrossFit Games

The 2024 CrossFit Games will take place in a new location as the season-ending event heads to Birmingham, AL. There are obvious questions about the late summer weather, but they should not be a concern based on the events possibly taking place inside a massive facility, the Birmingham CrossPlex.

(Editor’s note: Morning Chalk Up reached out multiple times to the Birmingham CrossPlex for comment. These requests via phone and email went unanswered)

The details: A city official with knowledge of the deal spoke to Morning Chalk Up and revealed that the CrossFit Games will head Birmingham, however this has yet to be confirmed by CrossFit HQ.

Of course, speculation is rampant and now everyone has their sights on the CrossPlex, a 750,000-square-foot, multi-purpose athletic and meeting facility as the most likely host venue, and with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the world-class facility which is located just outside of the city’s downtown core.

  • The Birmingham CrossPlex boasts several options for workout programmers. There is a 50-meter indoor Olympic swimming pool with 10 lanes, a six-lane oval hydraulic track, and an arena with 20,000 square feet of usable space.
  • The Birmingham CrossPlex has hosted a variety of events, ranging from rodeos to concerts and trade shows. There have also been numerous sports events including two NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championships and hockey matches.

A hydraulic what? The hydraulic track is not something that is common. There are only seven in the United States and only 10 in the entire world, so the term is new to many people. The takeaway is that the track is adjustable.

  • According to Granger Construction, the hydraulic track “ allows coaches and athletes to raise and lower the track surface at each end to specific angles of embankment, incorporating slope into the turns of the track.”
  • “The slopes help counteract centrifugal force caused by an athlete’s circular motion, thus reducing the effort required to make tight corners and allowing runners to achieve better racing times.”

The people at work: The CrossPlex has numerous features for the athletes taking part, as well as the people working to cover the NOBULL CrossFit Games. For the athletes, there are numerous locker rooms with showers, warmup areas with room for hurdles, and stretching areas. There is even a theater-style meeting room with a capacity of 500 people, which will be handy for athlete announcements or press conferences.

  • There are multiple options for the media members. The indoor track facility has a press box with 20 workstations, each with individual internet connections and monitors. This facility has a four-person broadcast box with room for camera equipment.
  • Similarly, the Bill Harris Arena has a dedicated press box overlooking the competition floor for coverage of important events.

The infrastructure and fan experience: The ability to host a variety of events in an indoor facility is important, especially with an estimated 75% humidity at the time of the NOBULL CrossFit Games. Equally important is the infrastructure that improves the overall fan experience.

  • First and foremost is parking. There are over 1,000 parking spots at the facility, as well as 26 handicap parking spaces. There are also turnaround/dropoff spots for buses and vans located at the rear and the front of the facility.
  • The Birmingham CrossPlex also has ample space in the concourse for merchandise sales, which will scratch that itch of the CrossFit community. They can buy the latest products from numerous companies without heading out into the heat and humidity.

Seating is another important factor for the NOBULL CrossFit Games. The Bill Harris Arena, which would compare to Madison’s coliseum, can seat 5,000 fans while the Natatorium can seat 1,000. There is also space for 400 coaches and athletes on the swim deck. The indoor track venue can hold 4,000 fans in the bleachers and many others in the seven VIP suites.



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Share Your CrossFit Story


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise. Send us a tip.

On September 21st, Joey Reger from Southern California was struck by a vehicle while riding his bike home from CrossFit. His extensive injuries have led to several surgeries and interventions, along with a long road to recovery. A GoFundMe has been created for Joey to aid his family while he is unable to work as a photographer.

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