Mere moments after Josh Bridges’ video submission for his workout-winning 16.4 performance was posted online, online critics started voicing their concerns over the legitimacy of his reps—particularly in the deadlift and handstand push-ups.
A Reddit thread sprung up addressing the subject, and as you can see, there was an over-arching theme to discussions:
there isn’t really a polite way to say this: Bridges reps are at best questionable. Some of the other guys in this video are just plain garbage.
If Josh knew he was most likely going to win this open workout and the $2,016, then someone should have taken a better video of just him. From that video posted, a lot of his DLs look questionable because of the distance, I can’t see the line on the wall for his HSPUs and you can’t see the calorie counter on the rower. When winning an open workout and money is involved, a better video should have been taken.
Needs a different angle. It looks like a NR to me, but it’s possible his back is straight and he’s just hunching his shoulders a bit. BUT, the guy in the back on the far left??? Textbook NR.
According to the movement standards for the deadlift posted by the CrossFit Games staff, “Starting at the floor, the barbell is lifted until hips and knees reach full extension with the shoulders behind the bar. The arms must be straight throughout. No bouncing.”
Most people are saying that Bridges’ shoulders regularly fail to go behind the bar at the conclusion of the rep, with others stating that he misses full hip extension. Others have also critiqued the form of the other athletes in the video—particularly the competitor to the left of Bridges.
CJ Martin, owner of CrossFit Invictus and Bridges’ judge for 16.4, took to Instagram to give his piece:
Here’s his post in full: “cjinvictus@bridgesj3 has won an Open event 7 times, and all 7 times the Internet community reminds me that judging/officiating is a thankless effort. Luckily, Josh submitted his video last Friday because he thought it would be a top score and it was approved then. And luckily, over the last 7 years our teams and individual athletes have been tested at Regionals and Games (with “real” judges) and performed quite well. So I’ll keep my focus on helping to develop athletes and leave the judging to others.”
Yet as you’ll see by combing through the comments to this picture, people are still questioning the legitimacy of Bridges’ reps. It’s worth noting that Bridges is a season Games competitor and has seven Open workout victories to his name. Throughout that time he has proved his fitness on numerous occasions, particularly at the Games when he is being judged by the best in the business. Yet suspect movement standards and poor judging has always been a topic of debate during the Open. In fact, in 2014, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet won 14.2 after repeating the workout. But as this video shows, her pull-up bar had a lot of ‘bounce’ to it, which provoked another storm of controversy.
It appears that CrossFit HQ monitored this storm, and have now acted. On Thursday afternoon, they released this article announcing that they have applied a “Major Penalty” to Bridges’ score, reducing it by 15 percent to 280 reps. On top of this, HQ has admitted that they made a mistake by reviewing Bridges’ submitted video and giving advice prior to the 5 p.m. (PT) deadline on Monday. “Josh Bridges posted 330 reps on Open Workout 16.4, the world’s highest score. He performed the workout at CrossFit Invictus Point Loma where he was judged by CJ Martin. Martin deemed that there were no missed reps, and later validated his score. Prior to the deadline, Bridges submitted his video in the event it was a winning performance. A member of our judging team reviewed it, and noted that there were some questionable reps on the deadlift, but advised that based on the angle of the video and the fact that the on-the-floor judge had an appropriate angle for all reps, that the video was acceptable. We believe that our team made a mistake by reviewing video and giving advice before the deadline. The advice was not consistent with previous rulings. We’ve decided to apply a Major Penalty to Josh Bridges’ 16.4 score. It will be reduced by 15 percent to 280 reps. The next top score belongs to Rich Froning, pending video verification. We have additionally decided that in the future no video will be reviewed or judged prior to the deadline unless it is publicly submitted as an official video submission.”
This is good news for the affiliate community, as it shows that CrossFit HQ have listened to the concerns of many people who questioned the legitimacy of the performances of Games-caliber athletes, and won’t allow a questionable performance to stand, even if it was done by a well-known athlete at a well-known affiliate. Bridges appears to have used the ruling as motivation for 16.5, posting this picture on Instagram:
He also included a link to a video for his performance of 16.5, which he performed in 7:15. You can find the video here.
Could this episode of the Open pave the way for major reforms in future competitions? HQ did announce that they “ have additionally decided that in the future no video will be reviewed or judged prior to the deadline unless it is publicly submitted as an official video submission.” Some additional suggestions to improve the video submission process of the Open have included requiring top athletes to perform the workouts with a personal cameraman, versus the fixed camera that makes it difficult to judge all the movements and reps. A personal cameraman that follows the athlete around and shows multiple angles with a closer view does sound like a good idea. Another idea was posted on the same Reddit thread mentioned above:
“HQ should move to a video-required format for the open next year.
Everyone should be required to submit videos with their scores. The Games site should allow anyone in the community to flag a video for potential rejection. Videos with a high flag rate will be reviewed by official judges for actual rejection or score adjustment.
The Bridges video demonstrates just how bad the bro-repping is at some affiliates. We need to all be operating according to the same standards. Requiring videos will help with that.
I have to submit videos for the Open, it’s not that much of a hassle. If HQ harnesses the power of the community, we could do a good job of keeping each other honest, and weeding out the problem videos for the judges.”
What do you think of Bridges’ performance and HQs subsequent actions? What ideas do you have for video submissions and judging in future Open competitions?