Regionals Week 3 Wrap-Up: Bodyweight Movements, Young Guns and Big Announcements

Written by:

Damect Dominguez

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“Photo courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.”

Another week of Regionals is in the books, and the top athletes from the Mid Atlantic, Southern California, South Central and Asia regions have secured their spot at the 2014 CrossFit Games. There were plenty of talking points on Sunday evening that are set to continue this week, with the big news that Games veteran and 2013 2nd place finisher Lindsey Valenzuela placed 4th in the SoCal Regional, meaning that she will not be making a return to Carson this year. Then on Sunday Dave Castro made another big announcement when he revealed that no athlete would be receiving a wild card invite to the Games in 2014.

We cover it all in our breakdown of the CrossFit Regionals: Week 3.

New programming makes waves
It’s no secret that this year’s Regional programming has focused on bodyweight movements and gymnastic ability, which differs from the emphasis on strength-based workouts that we’ve seen in previous years. This is something that Castro alluded to while being interviewed at the SoCal Regional over the weekend:

“Basically, everyone’s strong. … All these top guys are getting really (expletive) strong. But now we wanted to show and highlight those who paid attention to the fundamentals of body-weight and gymnastics movements, and we put a premium on those. You still need to be strong, but you also need to show some excellence in those movements.”

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-Dave Castro, Director of the CrossFit Games

One such movement that has been a hot topic of conversation so far has been the handstand walk. After Sam Briggs also finished in 4th at the European Regional, much was made of her apparent ‘inability’ to perform a handstand walk after placing 26th in the event. But here’s the thing. Sam Briggs can do handstand walks, and if you follow her on social media, you’ll see that she can do them pretty well. Yes, it may not be one of her strong suits, but she definitely has the capability to walk more than the 65 feet she managed in Denmark. What was her undoing is the fact that she only had one attempt at ‘walking’ as far as possible. Compare that with the preceding event, the hang snatch, where athletes had 3 attempts to establish their heaviest 1-rep. A missed lift on the first attempt would be problematic, but it wouldn’t be catastrophic, as you would have two more opportunities to hit a weight. Not so in the handstand walk. You may be capable in the event, as Briggs certainly is, but one mistake, one miscue—and your hopes of qualifying are put in serious jeopardy—as she would later find out. And with new changes to the ‘traditional’ programming of years past, it stands to reason that new athletes will come to the fore of our sport, which is exactly what’s happened so far.

The level of competition is rising
Just ask Lindsey Valenzuela. 2013’s second fittest woman never placed lower than 8th in any of the events at the SoCal Regional this weekend, but it wasn’t quite enough as she finished in 4th, nine points out of the 3rd qualifying spot—which went to Individual Games rookie Lauren Fisher. In fact, with big names failing to make it back to the Games this summer, there are plenty of new athletes who have eagerly seized their opportunity to ensure that this year’s Games will be unique. Just look at the South Central and Europe Regionals. All six individual male competitors who qualified are Games rookies. There is the argument that the change in programming for 2014 has meant that there will be changes to the usual suspects of the CrossFit Games, but it is also a reflection of how quickly the caliber of CrossFit athletes is rising worldwide. What’s more is that not only are athletes getting better—they’re getting younger, too. Lauren Fisher is 20 years old.  Jonne Koski, winner of the Europe Regional, is just 19. The future of our sport is in young hands, and for all the right reasons, that future is scary.

No wild card invitations for 2014
As I referred to earlier, on Sunday Castro announced that there will be no wild card invitations this year:

“No one’s getting a wild card and the right people are going to the Games this year.”

-Dave Castro, Director of the CrossFit Games

Immediately the community was abuzz with the ‘news’ that athletes like Briggs, Valenzuela and Holmberg won’t be at the Games this summer. But hang on just a second. Just because there won’t be any wild card spots for this year doesn’t necessarily mean that athletes won’t receive a special invite. This is important to note: a wild card spot and a special invitation are two separate things. For further clarification, lets consult the CrossFit Games rulebook:

1. Special Invite: Page 3, Section 3b: Participation Requirements
All Athletes must compete in the Open in order to advance to Regionals or the Games, or to contribute to a Team. However, CrossFit, Inc. reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to invite past winners, guest athletes, Teams or others, to participate in any stage of competition. This decision may be made to preserve the traditions and spirit of the CrossFit Games or for any other reason at the sole discretion of CrossFit, Inc.

2. New Wild Card Spots
Forty-three men and 43 women will be awarded spots to the CrossFit Games at the Regionals—that’s it. Even if a past champion qualifies, additional spots will not open up.

If CrossFit chooses to invite more than 43 athletes, the wild card spots will go to the athletes who performed the best relative to all other Regional competitors. The number of wild card spots will be announced following Regionals.

Look at it this way, in 2013 there were no ‘wild card spots’ yet Kristian Clever still received a special invite despite not qualifying through Regionals.

So there you have it. Castro may have nullified the wild card, whereby the top performers who just missed out on qualification may receive an invite, but he made no mention of any changes to the special invite clause. Of course, there are still a few questions that remain unanswered. When Dave Castro said that no one was getting a wild card invite, did he mean no one was getting a wild card or special invite? If CrossFit does utilize a special invite for one or more athletes, does that discredit Castro’s statement that the “right people” will be at the Games? Will the inclusion of Briggs at the Games be a sign that the traditions and spirit of the CrossFit Games need to be preserved? Will Holmberg still be able to use his lifetime invitation to compete? Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure—the 2014 Games will be unlike anything we’ve seen before.

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

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