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The 10 Most Impactful Stories of 2019

Morning Chalk Up

January 1

Morning Chalk Up

Happy New Year and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. We are kicking off the new decade on a high note as Editor-in-Chief, Justin LoFranco counts down the top ten stories that made the biggest mark last year. And keeping with that theme, we recap the first four Sanctionals of the 2019 – 2020 CrossFit Games season. Today, by the numbers:

  • Ten impactful stories and a prank.
  • Three big lessons from the Filthy 150 to the Dubai CrossFit.
  • Eight important dates in January. 
  • One Games athlete makes a big sponsor shift.

Start the new decade off right — hit that PR or big lift and then let us know about it at: [email protected].




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“Never whine. Never complain. Never make excuses.
Kill the critic in your head and weaponize your mind.”

— Ben Bergeron, “Your Mind is a Weapon” Tedx Talk


The 10 Most Impactful Stories of 2019


As we cap off another big year in CrossFit, it feels like a lot has happened. CrossFit left Facebook and Instagram, then came back-ish, there were two CrossFit Opens with lots more penalties, Jillian Michaels attacked CrossFit, a lot of athletes tested positive for PEDs, a CrossFit Games teen athlete passed away, Kara Saunders returned to competition showing the world what fit mamas can do, CrossFit’s legal battles with the NSCA continued, CrossFit changed their website and started producing WOD videos featuring old people lifting antifreeze in grandma’s living room, and the Games doled out a wildcard to an OCR athlete.

Some of the stories above set new traffic records — all told we capped off more than 7 million hits on last year’s stories alone — but here are the ones we think had the biggest impact on the community as a whole, regardless of traffic.

  1. Deep Inside the Laboratory Testing CrossFit Games’ Athletes for PEDs — IMPACT ???
  2. CrossFit Shutters Facebook, Instagram Accounts Amid Data Privacy Concerns — VIRAL ???
  3. Can athletes really make a living doing CrossFit? My experience says, yes. (Op-Ed by Stacie Tovar) — IMPACT ???
  4. CrossFit CEO Resigns — VIRAL ???
  5. In Signing Thorisdottir, Nuun Brings Pregnancy Protections Debate to the CrossFit World — IMPACT ???
  6. Elite Athletes Call for Improvements to HQ’s Video Review Amid Devin Ford Controversy — IMPACT ???
  7. Saturday Cuts Rip Through Games Veterans — VIRAL ???
  8. CrossFit Removes Footwear Restrictions at the CrossFit Games — IMPACT ???
  9. An Open Letter to Everyone Doing the Open Without “Doing” The Open (Op-Ed by Niki Brazier) — VIRAL ???
  10. “I don’t find muscular women attractive,” one wife’s tale. — IMPACT ???

…and because it broke the single-day traffic record and fooled oh so many of you, including Jess Griffith, Rich Froning Accepts Individual Invite to Compete at 2019 CrossFit Games.


3 Lessons Learned From The First Four Sanctionals


Now that 2019 has officially come to a close, the natural competition break for the holiday season has provided some valuable time to reflect on what’s been a truly remarkable year for the Sport of Fitness. The calendar year is in its infancy but the 2019-2020 CrossFit Games season is already three months old. Events in Ireland, Argentina, China, and the U.A.E have come and gone, but before we turn our eyes to the next in line this season, there are some key takeaways from the first four Sanctionals.

Lesson 1: New Movements Are the New Norm

Innovation within the sport has typically been a top down process. Something new shows up at the Games, then before long it trickles down to Regionals and possibly the Open. With more programming cooks in the kitchen, we’re seeing Sanctionals take the baton and run with it, in an effort to inject creativity and excitement into the sport.

  • The Filthy 150 led things off with a new movement variation dubbed the “unbroken rope climb,” and after seeing it in action, expect this show up more frequently going forward and become a Games level standard for elite divisions.
  • Pandaland introduced a uniquely Chinese implement to their program known as the Stone Lock – an object used in training for nearly a thousand years by kung fu masters and martial arts practitioners.
  • Dubai introduced three new movements to CrossFit competition earlier this month in their event DFC Original, which featured flying push-ups, deck squats, and A jumps.

Lesson 2: Sharing Is Caring Between Sanctionals

In the 2018-2019 season, event planners and hosts looked to establish themselves within the new landscape and there was very little collaboration in programming or competition elements. Now with 28 events trying to thrive, there is a benefit to learning from one’s peers. The information flowing amongst them so far points towards a higher level of synergy this season.

  • SouthFit took a page out of Filthy 150’s book and included legless rope climbs in their programming just two weeks after their debut in Ireland.
  • Last season Reykjavik introduced a new benchmark workout aptly titled “Dottir,” and this year Dubai borrowed it as a workout for the final day of their competition.
  • One of the coolest new elements introduced last year was a finish line buzzer by the Asia CrossFit Championships, and it was nice to see it featured once again in China by Pandaland.

Lesson 3: Use Culture As A Calling Card

If you ask any athlete what makes a Sanctional attractive, the answer will likely vary, but one characteristic that consistently shows up is location and the opportunity to travel to new and interesting places. This also applies to fans looking to see their favorite athletes and make a vacation of it. With that in mind, events have bolstered their draw by adding cultural experiences that set them apart from the rest of the pack.

  • Pandaland took athletes and media on a trip to the Chengdu Panda Research Base–an attraction that draws tourists from across the globe–to see giant pandas and learn about the namesake animal of the competition.
  • The opening event for Dubai once again took to the beach at the beautiful Jumeirah Mina Al Salam with the world famous Burj Al Arab Hotel in the background, treating athletes and spectators to a beautiful and unique setting to start the competition.
  • In true Irish fashion, the Filthy 150 venue — the Punchestown racecourse — had multiple pubs on site, and the schedule included a community event that featured athletes competing from every affiliate in Ireland. Later these same athletes packed the arena as spectators and brought tremendous energy for the elite competition. 

Soon the 2020 season will jump into overdrive with events slated for nearly every weekend from March to July, but the CrossFit Filthy 150, Southfit CrossFit Challenge, Pandaland CrossFit Challenge, and Dubai CrossFit Championships have provided useful lessons and set a high bar for upcoming events to meet and exceed.


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Your Mind is a Weapon

In his first TEDx talk, coach Ben Bergeron shares two key principles that will change your mindset and your life: winning is a result, not a goal; and that character, not talent is what makes champions.

  Morning Chalk Up  



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  Morning Chalk Up  


Instant Pot Chicken Pho

This paleo-friendly, Whole30-compliant, and most importantly, authentic chicken pho recipe from Nom Nom Paleo is the exact kind of “OMG need to warm up my body…PS why does my head hurt oh so much” meal for a cold New Year’s day.





Eight Important January Dates to Remember

2020 is coming in hot and January is shaping up to be a big month in the CrossFit Games season. Here are eight important dates to mark on your calendar:

  • January 1-13, 2020 — Mid Atlantic CrossFit Challenge individual online qualifier.
  • January 6, 2020 — CrossFit HQ’s deadline to deliver invitations to the top twenty worldwide Games qualifiers through the Open as well as national champions.
  • January 10-20, 2020 — Rogue Invitational online qualifier. 
  • January 10-27, 2020 — CrossFit Germany Throwdown online qualifier for teams and individuals.
  • January 11-12, 2020 — Mayhem CrossFit Classic in Cookeville, TN.
  • January 13, 2020 — Camping and RV spots go on sale for the 2020 CrossFit Games.
  • January 24-26, 2020 — CrossFit Strength in Depth in London, England.
  • January 29 – February 10, 2020 — Mid Atlantic CrossFit Challenge team online qualifier.
  Morning Chalk Up  

Scott Panchik Exits Reebok for Born Primitive

All of the action in the first four Sanctionals of the 2019-2020 CrossFit Games season may have obscured Scott Panchik’s exodus from Reebok to Born Primitive. This announcement on Instagram, which came two days before Thanksgiving, flew under the radar, but here’s a little more on the impact of Panchik’s decision to join the Born Primitive team. 

  • Panchik becomes the first male athlete on a Born Primitive team. Their marketing has tended to cater more towards female audiences. Panchik brings a fresh face to spearhead promotion of BP’s growing line of men’s performance wear. 
  • The BP Team roster now includes Dani Speegle, Amanda Barnhart, Bethany Shadburne, Allison Scudds, Josie Hamming and Scott Panchik.
  • After leaving Reebok, Panchik has diversified his sponsorship portfolio, signing with Inov8 for shoes and BP for apparel, potentially signaling a shift for athletes looking to expand beyond a singular title sponsorship with the “Big 3” (Nike, Reebok and NOBULL).
  • BP Founder and CEO Bear Handlon: “[Scott’s] work ethic and drive is a huge part of our Born Primitive brand ethos, which makes Scott the perfect fit for us. We are excited to see him compete with CrossFit Mayhem this season and continue performing at such an elite level….We are very excited for what the future holds and Scott is going to play an integral role in that.” 
  • Another major brand on the podium: With Panchik joining Mayhem it’s all but guaranteed that BP will have an athlete on the podium, and more than likely winning the CrossFit Games. 
  • For what it’s worth: Scott has the second largest social media reach of the athlete roster with 290,000 followers, second only to Dani Speegle. 


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1/11: Unbroken Ocala (Ocala, FL)
1/11: Strongfit Fundamentals Course (San Diego, CA)
1/17: A Grand Day at Frantic (Cannington, Australia)
1/18: The Force Wars 2020 (Pembroke Pines, FL)
1/18: 3rd annual Battle For The Axe (Brainerd, MN)
1/18: Row For Reveille (Poulsbo, WA)
1/18: NCK Throwdown 2020 (Concordia, KS)
1/18: Lone Star Shootout (Dallas, TX)
1/18: CrossFit Krypton V.2 (Chesapeake, VA)
1/25: The Blizzard Brawl (Waite Park, MN)
1/25: Cerberus Powerlifting (Blue Springs, MO)
1/25: Reindeer Gainz III (Donna, TX)
1/25: 2020 Winter Swolestice (Fayetteville, AR)
1/25: Lost River Rumble II (Bowling Green, KY)
1/25: Cold Steel Classic (Oswego, IL)
1/25: HYROX Chicago (Chicago, IL)
2/1: Krypton’s Compete for a Cure (Chesapeake, VA)
2/1: Warrior Affiliate League Fantastic 4 (Chino Hills, CA)

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