Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. Tommy Marquez has a comparison of the 2019 and 2020 Games qualifiers and it gives us a clear picture of the global evolution of the sport. And, individual invite declines open six new spots on the top 20 leaderboard. Also, what would’ve happened if Rich Froning competed as an individual in his own event. Today:
“The chief cause of unhappiness is trading what you want most, for what you want at the moment.”
A Tale of Two Opens
The 2019 calendar year is one that will go down as a turning point in the history of the sport of fitness. From a logistical perspective, the inclusion of the Open as a direct qualifier for the CrossFit Games has arguably been the biggest change the sport has ever seen. With the announcement last Monday that the 2020 Open leaderboard is finalized, we now have our second batch of official Games qualifiers under the new, direct qualification pipeline.
Taking a look at the qualifiers from year one to year two, there are some interesting comparisons that shine light on the evolution of the Open in this new system.
But first, some caveats: There are some obvious contextual differences between year one and year two that ultimately factor into who ended up with the Games invites in their inboxes.
In year one, the flow in terms of what would get priority — an Open qualification spot or a Sanctionals invite — was unknown until well after the season was underway. This season it wasn’t an issue and athletes had a clearer understanding of the season structure.
The turnaround from the end of last season’s Games to the beginning of this season’s Open was only 67 days, compared to the 200 days that separated the 2018 Games and the 2019 Open. The periodization of training and the eventual outcome looks vastly different when there are nine weeks separating “peaks,” versus 28.
The increase to 28 total Sanctionals (27 after Cape Town’s unfortunate postponement) this season also plays a factor. With the Open leading the season off in October, there’s a little more wiggle room mentally knowing that there are two dozen or so more chances to earn your spot to the Games. Example: Lukas Hogberg.
In 2019 a total of 236 athletes were crowned national champions from 122 different countries. 122 men, and 114 women were bestowed the honor, and this year the total increased slightly to 239 athletes.
This season there are 125 countries – three more than last year – that will have the chance to have their flag waved at the CrossFit Games in Madison.
The gender percentage is still slightly skewed towards the men’s side, as male athletes make up 51.9 % of the field, compared to 48.1% for women. For comparison, women made up 48.3% of the field last season.
In 2019, five countries only crowned one champion, all of them men. In 2020 the number of single-champion countries jumped to 11, with only one of the solo champs being a woman.
45.9% of the men, and 52.6% of the women were able to repeat as champions from last season, which leaves us with a combined turnover rate of 50.8% meaning roughly half the field national champion field will be new this year. This is on par with the typical turnover rate for the Games under the old system which usually sat between 45-55%.
Only 27 countries are returning both champions from 2019, 21 of them (42 athletes) had previously never sent an athlete to the Games prior to this new system. Only two of those 42 athletes – Chile’s Simona Quintana and Paraguay’s Carole Colling-Romero – made it through the first day of competition.
10 more national champions (5 men and 5 women), were able to finish within the top 1,000 worldwide in 2020 than in 2019. 13 more were able to crack the top 500 worldwide in 2020 than in 2019.
Open Declines Shift Leaderboard, Six New Athletes Invited
Late last night the CrossFit Games team sent out a notice that the first round of Games invites from the 2020 Open had officially finished. They further clarified that following a handful of declines from athletes above the blue line for the top 20 qualifying spots, a second round of invites would be sent out Wednesday.
It’s gonna be a no for me dawg: Six athletes in total — three men and three women — ultimately passed on their individual invites in favor of the team competition instead. That number is up from 2019 when four athletes declined to go team.
On the women’s side: Andrea Nisler, Taylor Williamson, and Brooke Haas passed on their invite. Nisler and Williamson have their team spot booked with MisFit P10 Performance after winning the Dubai CrossFit Championship. Haas earned her spot with the ROMWOD Meat Squad at the Filthy 150.
For the men: Brandon Luckett, Rich Froning, and Rogelio (Roy) Gamboa declined their individual invites. Luckett’s team, the Odd Squad won the SouthFit CrossFit Challenge, while Gamboa was on the MisFit P10 Performance team in Dubai. Froning and the Mayhem Freedom team have not qualified yet but will be competing at Strength in Depth later this month.
What happens next: These three men and women will get Open invites.
Women: Marykay Dreisilker, Sasha Nievas, and Danielle Brandon.
Sara Alicia Fernandez Costas, who is the first athlete below the blue line, is the national champion of Spain and thus the invite will continue to be passed down.
Brandon, who technically received the Sanctionals invite for the Mayhem Classic on Sunday, will pass that invite down to next in line Feeroozah Saghafi. Here’s Saghafi’s reaction to learning that she’d receive the invite from Mayhem.
Men: Sean Sweeney, Connor Duddy, and Brent Fikowski. Willy Georges sits just below Sweeney on the leaderboard but will pass the invite down by virtue of being the French national champion.
With Fikowski getting the invite through the Open, the Dubai invite will pass to 9th place finisher Tola Morakinyo.
None of the second round invite athletes are expected to decline their invites, which should but a bow on the top 20 spots for the 2020 Open.
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The inaugural CrossFit Mayhem Classic came to a close on Sunday evening with the crowning of two champions in Tia-Clair Toomey and Chandler Smith, as well as invitations to the 2020 CrossFit Games extended to Luke Schafer and Feeroozah Saghafi (pending final Open backfilling). With respect to those great performances and all the athletes in the competition, arguably the highlight of the three-day competition was the performance of the Sanctional host, Rich Froning.
The Good Dudes: Froning competed in four of the seven programmed events in exhibition with Dan Bailey and Josh Bridges, who are all three collectively known as the Good Dudes. The Good Dudes brand of coffee was one of the sponsors for the event. Other CrossFit Mayhem athletes joined in on some of the events including current Mayhem Freedom teammates Tasia Percevecz, Chyna Cho and Scott Panchik. Haley Adams also joined in, competing in the event three exhibition on Friday evening.
What Happened: Froning was the only one of the exhibition athletes to compete in the four events. He won all four of the exhibition events, well ahead of the other athletes in his heat.
In Comparison: If Froning’s times were counted in comparison to the athlete that actually won the event in the competition, he would have won two events and finished second in two others. These are his times compared side-by-side to the event winners
Event 3: Froning – 6:25 | Samuel Cournoyer – 7:58
Event 4: Froning – 15:28 | Connor Duddy – 15:35
Event 5: Froning – 7:22 | Dylan Martin – 7:21
Event 7: Froning – 7:17 | Tola Morakinyo – 7:00
What If: The question we’ve all asked since Froning stepped away from individual competition after the 2014 CrossFit Games was “how would he fare against today’s athletes?” This event gave us our clearest answer, stepping on the individual competition floor for just the second time since going team, Froning showed he could not only compete but dominate in classic fashion. Prior to the Mayhem Classic, he took part in one event as an individual during the Rogue Invitational in the Legends Division, winning Amanda.
Based on the point system used at the Mayhem Classic, Froning scored 390 points which alone would have placed him in 11th place event if he scratched the remaining events.
Considering that Froning programmed and tested all the events multiple times it would be safe to assume he would have done well enough to place in the upper half of these events.
Also consider that no athlete in the competition field won multiple events and the eventual men’s winner average placing throughout the weekend was 5.8, Froning’s was 1.5.
More Numbers: Of course knowing the workouts and programming them gives a distinct advantage and again this in no way should take anything away from Smith, Schafer or any of the athletes competing on the floor. Another clear indication of Froning’s continued greatness lies in his Worldwide CrossFit Open scores since he stepped away to compete in the team competition.
2020 – 19th
2019 – 10th
2018 – 10th
2017 – 11th
2016 – 2nd
2015 – 2nd
The bottom line: In reality it means nothing, Froning has repeatedly made it clear that he has no desire to compete as an individual. He is committed to winning championships with Mayhem Freedom this year and the foreseeable future. But watching him compete this weekend you couldn’t help but think, what if?
16-Year-Old Paige Powers at the Mayhem Classic
Niki Brazier caught up with Paige Powers, who placed 18th at the Mayhem Classic. Last year, she took 3rd at the CrossFit Games in the 16-17 teen division, and she’s following the Train with Rich programming with the goal of getting to the Games as an individual.
Hit a training plateau in 2019? The team at Invictus wants to help you bust out of your rut and hit new training heights in 2020. Try Invictus programming from the legendary CrossFit coach C.J. Martin and the team at Invictus and make 2020 your year.
David Epstein is an investigative reporter for ProPublica and two-time New York Times bestselling author. He joins the Brute Strength podcast to talk about some of the most common myths about genetics and athletic ability.
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