The 2015 CrossFit Games start on July 21st, and unless you were fortunate enough to get a ticket to see the action in person (though tickets are still available!), you’re going to have to tune in to ESPN or watch the competition on the CrossFit Games site (games.crossfit.com). Now, for those of you that are on the fence about whether you should watch the 2015 Games, let us provide you with some of the reasons why the 2015 Games should be mandatory viewing for all CrossFitters.
A new Men’s champion will be crowned
Arguably the biggest story behind this year’s Games centers on the Men’s competition, as for the first time in four years, someone other than Rich Froning will be crowned the Fittest Man on earth. That’s because Froning, after four successive championships, has decide to compete on a team this year (we’ll get to that in a moment). So for the sake of variety, you should tune in to watch this historic changing of the guard. The favorite to claim the now-vacant title is 2014’s 2nd fittest man and runner up to Froning, Mat Fraser. However, the Men’s field is an intriguing mix of wily vets (Ben Smith, Scott Panchik) young bucks (Noah Ohlsen) and rookies (Alex Vigneault), who will all be buoyed by Froning’s (as well as Games veteran and former champion Jason Khalipa) absence—so expect a ferocious battle for the Men’s crown at the Games.
The depth of the women’s field
However, the real battle is probably going to come in the Women’s competition. The last three Games’ champions—dating back to 2011—have all qualified this year, which means we will finally get to see Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (2014 champ), Sam Briggs (2013) and Annie Thorisdottir (2011,12) compete side by side once more on the hallowed grounds of
the Stub Hub Center. That should be enough on it’s own to entice you to tune in to the Games this July, but the fact that this may very well be the strongest Women’s field in CrossFit Games history makes it must-see action.
Clearly, the Women’s field is absolutely stacked with a number of athletes who could podium or win it outright, and what makes it even more enticing as a feat of fitness is that there is no clear favorite—so you’ll have to watch the whole thing to discover who 2015’s Fittest Woman will be!
The Team competition
As is the case for the women, in 2015 we could see the most exciting Team competition in CrossFit Games history. Tommy Hackenbruck comes back to former champions Hack’s Pack UTE after competing as an individual last year, Jason Khalipa also moves from individual competition to team with his affiliate, NorCal CrossFit, 2014 champions CrossFit Invictus return with a squad that includes Lauren Fisher and Rasmus Andersen (who finished 12th and 8th respectively as individuals at the California Regional), and of course four-time Games champ Rich Froning will be leading CrossFit Mayhem Freedom when the Games kick off on July 22nd (for Teams and Individuals). Team competition hasn’t always been the most popcorn-friendly entertainment, but you can’t deny that it’s going to be cool to see Hackenbruck, Khalip and Froning battle one another in a completely different format. From pure star power alone, you have to watch the Team competition at the Games.
But who needs star power when you can witness a star in the making? Every year at the Games, a relative unknown comes out of nowhere and produces an exceptional performance that makes you sit up and say, ‘Who the heck is that?!’. Looking ahead to the 2015 Games, we have a plethora of rookies who will be making their first trip to Carson—28 in fact. With such an abundance of fresh talent preparing to showcase their fitness come July, don’t be surprised to see one or more rookies produce an exceptional performance throughout the competition that makes them fun to watch. Remember, Froning and Thorisdottir were once rookies too. The Games are where their legends have been made—so don’t miss out on it.
The events we already know about
Dave Castro (Director of the CrossFit Games) never reveals the full event details ahead of the Games (sometimes events are revealed only minutes before athletes have to tackle them), but in recent years he has relinquished one or two events a couple of weeks prior to the competition start date. As of writing, we know three events for the Individuals at the Games:
-Snatch Speed Ladder (similar to the Clean Speed Ladder of 2014)
-Sprint Course (From the CrossFit Games site: Think of the Sprint Course as a mash-up of the ZigZag Sprint, O-Course and Sprint Sled. A heat of athletes will sprint from one side of the field, around and over obstacles, in a race to the other side. This will be one scored event. After a brief rest, the same heat of athletes will sprint back for a second scored event.)
In addition to these three events, we know that the individuals will be starting on the beach—but in what capacity? That still remains a mystery. But based on these three events alone, the 2015 Games are shaping up to be quite the barnburner. We will have athletes taking on the most famous Hero workout in CrossFit (complete with 20lb. vests, we assume), a variation of one of 2014’s most popular events, and the sheer excitement of seeing athletes combine speed and agility as they spin, jump and sprint their way through an obstacle course. Who wouldn’t want to do that, let alone watch it?
Adding to the significant list of firsts for the 2015 Games comes the addition of the Teen competition. During the Open this year, athletes aged 14-17 had the opportunity to compete in one of four specific divisions:
Initially, teen athletes in the Open would be competing for nothing more than placement in their division. Then, on April 4th, CrossFit HQ announced that the top 10 athletes worldwide in each teenage division in the Open would be invited to compete at the CrossFit Games. That adds up to a total of 40 athletes across four divisions (14-15 girls, 14-15 boys, 16-17 girls, 16-17 boys). Now, why is the inclusion of the Teen division at the Games worth your attention? Because just as the rookies at past Games have gone on to shape the sport of CrossFit, we will now be getting a glimpse at the next generation of Fronings and Frasers, Bazinets and Briggs’. A few years from now you might be able to say, “I watched (insert current Games champ) when they were a Teen at the Games.” How cool will it be to watch them grow and develop into a great athlete (not that they aren’t already)? Very cool. The only problem is that these kids are going to make us feel quite crap about our own fitness. Oh well.
Arguably the fittest athletes at the Games ever
The 2015 CrossFit Games season saw a completely revamped qualifying process for the Regionals and the Games. To begin with, the qualifying numbers from the Open to the Regionals fell from 48 and 30 (Individuals and Teams) to:
-20 men, 20 women and 15 teams from regions in the U.S. and Canada.
-30 men, 30 women and 20 teams from Europe and Australia.
-10 men, 10 women and 10 teams from Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Next, the existing 17 regions were combined to create 8 new Regional competitions (For example—NorCal and SoCal were combined to create the California Regional). And from this reduced field of competitors, only the top 5 Men, Women and Teams from Regionals earned their spots to the Games. In conclusion, 2015 saw the toughest qualifying process for the Games to date, which means we will likely be seeing the fittest combined group of athletes at the Games in history. Of course, Khalipa and Froning are two notable omissions from the Individual competition, but let’s be honest—they probably would have qualified as Individuals if they wanted to.
See a different side of CrossFit
For those of you who don’t already know, there’s a whole other world to CrossFit that extends far beyond the walls of your affiliate. You might get a taste for it when competing at local CrossFit-style competitions or watching the Open, but nothing can compare to the Games. Watching the best athletes square off against one another, cheered on by thousands of fellow CrossFitters in the biggest stage in CrossFit makes you realize that the Games represents all that is great about our sport and community in one competition. After watching the Games, you’ll realize that even though you may come to the same affiliate day in, day out, you’re really a small part of a wonderful fitness machine that is growing in stature every day.
What’s so cool about our sport is that the athletes we see at the Games have risen up from the ranks of thousands of CrossFitters around the world. Yet they are our coaches, and still train and interact with regular classes frequently. They represent what it means to completely devote yourself to your craft, and the athletes who make it to the Games have typically overcome great struggles to get there (such as Miranda Oldroyd, who was nearly killed in a car crash but managed to make it back to Carson). Even those athletes who haven’t had to deal with life-threatening injuries or other serious challenges can still serve as inspirational figures. During last year’s Games, rookie Lauren Fisher inspired a whole new generation of young athletes to give CrossFit a go and make it their goal to get to the Games. It’s hard not to get inspired watching these men and women give everything they have in each workout at the Games for the chance to make it to the podium (or even the top 10). Their passion and drive for CrossFit may just reinvigorate your own.
Learn how to be a better CrossFitter
Keep in mind that when you’re watching the Games, you’re seeing the best athletes in CrossFit run, squat, lift, jump, pull, push, climb and swim. You’re bound to pick up some handy tips from watching these men and women move. Perhaps you’ll notice a really efficient technique for handstand push-ups, or applaud a successful work/rest scheme from an athlete that works to perfection in an event. Even if you don’t recognize a ‘learning opportunity’ on your own, the play-by-play commentators of the live coverage have got you…covered (it’s pun o’clock). But these guys are experienced athletes themselves who will point out unique things about the way an athlete moves, and highlight areas that you can apply to your regular training. That’s certainly valuable, wouldn’t you say?