Following the conclusion of the CrossFit Invitational back in November, Dave Castro (Director of the CrossFit Games) announced upcoming changes to the qualifying format for the Regionals and the Games in 2015 and beyond. Castro had provided a basic outline as to what those changes would be, and on Thursday (December 4th) CrossFit HQ released the full details.
There are now 8 Regionals
Athletes will register for the Open and compete in one of the existing 17 regions, as has been the case in previous years. An athlete’s placing within their region will determine whether they advance to the next stage of the competition—the Regionals. So far, this all sounds pretty familiar, so let’s dive into the big changes for 2015. In 2015, there will only be 8 Regionals (as opposed to the previous 17 Regionals). After the Open, here is how the regions are combined:
The existing 17 regions are to be combined to create 8 new Regionals:
- Canada West and North West Regions → West Regional
- Canada East and North East Regions → East Regional
- NorCal and SoCal Regions → California Regional
- North Central and Central East Regions → Central Regional
- South West, South Central and Latin America Regions → SouthRegional
- Mid Atlantic and South East Regions → Atlantic Regional
- Europe and Africa Regions → Meridian Regional
- Australia and Asia Regions → Pacific Regional
Qualifying numbers for Regionals
In years past, the top 48 men and women and the top 30 teams from each region in the Open would be invited to compete at Regionals. In 2015, those numbers are set to change—though it will vary from region to region:
- 20 men, 20 women and 15 teams will advance from regions in the U.S. and Canada.
- 30 men, 30 women and 20 teams will advance from Europe and Australia.
- 10 men, 10 women and 10 teams will advance from Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The region combinations result in a total of 40 men, 40 women and 30 teams at all regionals except the South Regional, which will have 50 men, 50 women and 40 teams. For example, the top 20 men from the South East Region will be invited to compete against the top 20 men from the Mid Atlantic Region at the newly formed Mid Atlantic Regional.
Qualifying numbers for the Games
We have been used to seeing the top 3 men, women and teams from Regionals advance to the Games each year, but no more. In 2015, the top five men, five women and five teams at the end of the 3-day Regional competition will qualify for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games.
What does this mean for the athletes? OR What does this all mean? OR How does it affect the Games hopefuls?
We have suggested previously that CrossFit decided to combine regions into new, condensed Regionals to dissuade athletes moving to weaker regions in an attempt to qualify for the Games, and to ensure that the best athletes would make it to the Games.
“I want to get the fittest in the men’s finals. I want to get the best of the best in the men’s final and there’s a way we can do that, that we’re not quite doing right now. It can be better and we’re going to show you. We have a better version of what we’re doing now and it’ll get the fittest in the world here.”
-Dave Castro, speaking at the 2014 post-Games press conference
While many athletes (such as seven-time competitor Becca Voigt) have welcomed these changes, the new qualifying process for the Games will certainly increase the pressure and competition for those who are looking to make it to Carson in 2015.
Take the newly formed California Regional for example. For both male and female athletes, the level of competition they will now face has just exploded. The male qualifiers from the NorCal Regional in 2013 were Jason Khalipa (3rd place at 2014 Games), Neal Maddox (15th place at 2014 Games) and Marcus Filly (25th place). Throw in the likes of Wes Piatt (35th at 2013 Games) and Garret Fisher (5th at 2013 Games) and you can see how stacked the NorCal region is. Now, Jason Khalipa has announced his retirement from individual competition, but all these athletes will now not just have to compete with each other, but with the class of the SoCal region as well. That includes the likes of Kenneth Leverich (19th at 2014 Games), Dan Bailey (10th at 2014 Games) and Josh Bridges (4th at 2014 Games).
It’s the same story on the women’s side. Valerie Voboril (5th at 2014 Games), Rebecca Voigt (24th at 2014 Games), Lauren Fisher (9th at 2014 Games) and Lindsey Valenzuela (2nd at 2013 Games) will have to compete against the women from the NorCal region: Alessandra Pichelli (23rd at 2014 Games), Chyna Cho (15th at 2014 Games) and Margaux Alvarez (34th at 2014 Games).
Keep in mind that only the top 5 athletes from the California Regional will advance to the Games, which means that there will be some big names that won’t make it to the Games in 2015. But, as Voigt (a 7x Games athlete) pointed out in a recent interview, this could be great for the sport.
“I feel the sport is only going to be better because of the changes that they [CrossFit HQ] make. And if it doesn’t work then they can always go back, so it’s not the end of the world. But I do think it’s going to be great. I have to grow as an athlete and embrace the changes, because the changes are going to happen regardless. So if it means that I have to work harder to get back to the Games—great! That mean’s that I’ll be a better athlete than I was yesterday. I think it’s going to enforce us to be more disciplined and work harder—and that can’t be bad.”
For the fans of the Games, the added competition will certainly bring more excitement to the Regionals and to the Games as the stakes will be higher for all the athletes concerned.
Scaled Open workouts
For the first time in 2015, CrossFit will release scaled versions of each Open workout so athletes can choose the programming that best matches their abilities. Athletes will be able to log on to the CrossFit Games site each Thursday to see their division’s prescribed version of the workout and their division’s scaled version of the workout. Those athletes who elect to complete the scaled version will still need to meet the movement standards (and other requirements) of the workout, and cannot scale or modify further.
It’s important to note that if you do decide to do a scaled Open workout one week, it won’t prevent you from doing the next workout as prescribed. But if you do decide to do all five Open WODs scaled, your scores will be visible on the Scaled Leaderboard. However, if you scale any Open workout, you’ll be removed from contention from qualifying for Regionals and the Masters Qualifier.
Athletes between the ages of 14 and 17 “as of the close of score submissions for Open Workout 15.1” will automatically be entered into the new Teenage division. The teens will perform a different version of the Open workout than the adult male and female competitors. The winners of the teenage division will be crowned after the fifth and final week of the Open.
For teen athletes that want to qualify for the Regionals (on a team or as an individual), must change their division by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of score submissions for Open Workout 15.1.
Picture from the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games