Who Will Win: Predicting the 2015 CrossFit Invitational

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December 6, 2015

On Friday night, CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro announced all five events for the 2015 CrossFit Invitational, which will be held Sunday, Dec. 6, from 4 – 6 p.m. CET (7 – 9 a.m. PT) at the Caja Mágica and streamed to the Games site. Team USA (Rich Froning, Dan Bailey, Chyna Cho, Margaux Alvarez), Team Europe (Katrin Davidsdottir, Sara Sigmundsdottir, Jonne Koski, Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson), Team Pacific (Kara Webb, Tia-Clair Toomey, Kevin Manuel, Ben Garard) and Team Canada (Alex Vigneault, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Emily Abbott, Lucas Parker) will do battle over the course of two hours. We took a look at the events and considered the intangibles of the competition to bring you our prediction of who we think will win the 2015 CrossFit Invitational.

Event 1: Thrusters and Rope Climbs
One woman then one man perform:
21 thrusters (95 / 65 lb.)
4 rope climbs
15 thrusters  (95 / 65 lb.)
3 rope climbs
9 thrusters  (95 / 65 lb.)
2 rope climbs

Then,

Second woman then second man perform:
21 thrusters (95 / 65 lb.)
3 legless rope climbs
15 thrusters (95 / 65 lb.)
2 legless rope climbs
9 thrusters (95 / 65 lb.)
1 legless rope climbs

The team’s score is the amount of time it takes for all four athletes to complete their portion of the event and reach the finish mat.

Event 1 of the Invitational bares a striking resemblance to Event 2 of the 2015 CrossFit Regionals—Tommy V:
21 thrusters
12 rope climbs
15 thrusters
9 rope climbs
9 thrusters
6 rope climbs
Men 115lbs/Women 75lbs

Obviously there are major differences between the Invitational event and Tommy V (specifically the weight and legless rope climbs in the second portion of the event), but we can track the performances of the Invitational athletes in Tommy V to anticipate which team will win the event.

Women (Team)  Men (Team)
Cho 07:56.8 (USA) Parker 07:25.4 (CAN)
Webb 08:17.6 (PAC) Koski 07:46.3 (EUR)
Abbott 09:22.6 (CAN) Gudmundsson 08:06.8 (EUR)
Toomey 09:23.2 (PAC) Vigneault 08:12.5 (CAN)
Alvarez 09:33.4 (USA) Bailey 08:30.2 (USA)
Sigmundsdottir 09:33.7 (EUR) Manuel 09:13.8 (PAC)
Bazinet 09:47.9 (CAN) Garard 10:56.8 (PAC)
Davidsdottir 11:40.8 (EUR) Froning N/A (USA)

 

Since Froning didn’t complete Tommy V at Regionals this year (he competed on Team CrossFit Mayhem Freedom), but it’s a safe bet assuming that he’ll have one of the fastest times on the event; Add to that Cho’s time in Tommy V (easily the fastest), add to that decent performances by Bailey and Alvarez and that puts the Team USA in the running to win the event. Team Canada doesn’t fall behind since they have three of the fastest times among the top four male and female finishes—more than any other team. The European men have quick times, but they are balanced out by slower scores from the women. However, given that this is a home event—not to mention the success that the Dottir’s enjoyed at the Games this summer—I expect them to perform much better in Madrid, and pip Team USA for 2nd.

Prediction:
1st Team USA
2nd Team Canada
3rd Team Europe
4th Team Pacific

Events 2 / 3: Team Speed Clean
Details to be announced.

This is an intriguing event, not only for whether it will follow the same format as the speed clean ladder from the 2014 Games, but whether the event will be performed as a relay, follow the leader style or as a paired workout. In addition, not all of the Invitational athletes competed at the Games in 2014, so we will use statistics from that event as well as the max clean and jerk numbers from 15.1a of the Open this year in an attempt to form a clearer picture.

Clean Speed Ladder Women, overall placing in event (Team) Clean Speed Ladder Men, overall placing in event (Team) Clean & Jerk total from 15.1a, Women Clean & Jerk total from 15.1a, Men
Webb 3rd (PAC) Froning 9th (USA) Webb 234lbs (PAC) Froning 350lbs (USA)
Bazinet 5th (CAN) Parker 11th (CAN) Sigmundsdottir 231lbs (EUR) Bailey 325lbs (USA)
Alvarez 16th (USA) Bailey 14th (USA) Abbott 227lbs (CAN) Parker 317lbs (CAN)
Cho 26th (USA) Koski 19th (EUR) Bazinet 227lbs (CAN) Garard 315lbs (PAC)
Abbott 33rd (CAN) Gudmundsson 26th (EUR) Davidsdottir 220lbs (EUR) Vigneault 315lbs (CAN)
Toomey n/a (PAC) Manuel n/a (PAC) Alvarez 220lbs (USA) Gudmundsson 315lbs (EUR)
Davidsdottir n/a (EUR) Garard n/a (PAC) Toomey 210lbs (PAC) Koski 309lbs (EUR)
Sigmundsdottir n/a (EUR) Vigneault n/a (PAC) Cho 207lbs (USA) Manuel 309lbs (PAC)

 

The American men are, combined, the best lifters for this event. Yet Bazinet and Abbott both posted bigger lifts than the American women during the Open, and Lucas Parker has always been a solid Olympic lifter, suggesting that Canada might have the advantage in this event. However, I don’t see a big of enough difference between the Canadian and American women to give them the nod, especially since Froning and Bailey should excel in the event. It will be close though.

Prediction:
1st Team USA
2nd Team Canada
3rd Team Europe
4th Team Pacific

Event 4: Push, Lift, Flip
For time:
25 handstand push-ups (each)
          Teammates in static holds
2-rep snatch at each bar (each)
          Men: 185/195/205/215/225 lb.
          Women: 120/125/130/135/140 lb.
2-rep clean at each bar (each)
          Men: 245/255/265/275/285 lb.
          Women: 145/155/165/175/185 lb.
50-ft. tire flip
 as M/F partners, alternating each flip

The event will begin with Athlete 1 on the handstand push-ups, Athlete 2 on the static handstand, and Athletes 3 and 4 on the bar hang. After Athlete 1 completes 25 handstand push-ups, the athletes will slide over, with Athlete 2 beginning handstand push-ups, Athlete 3 moving to the handstand hold, Athlete 4 holding a bar hang, and Athlete 1 resting. It will continue in this fashion until the team completes a total of 100 handstand push-ups (25 per person).

Next, the athletes will snatch. Male 1 will snatch 185 lb. twice, then Male 2 will snatch 185 lb. twice. Meanwhile, Female 1 will snatch 120 lb. twice then Female 2 will snatch 120 lb. twice. Once all four athletes have completed 2 reps at the first barbell, the team will advance to the second barbell to do the same. It will continue like this until the athletes complete all the weights.

Next, the athletes will clean. This will be completed in the same fashion as the snatches, but at the heavier weights shown above.

Last, the athletes will flip the tire in coed pairs until they reach the finish line. Once across the line, the team will sprint to the finish mat.

Goodness, how do we even begin to predict who will finish where in this event? It’s going to take coordination, communication, teamwork, and a whole lot of shoulder strength. A good workout comparison is the Soccer Chipper from the 2015 Games:
100ft. Pig flip (560/395lb.)
4 legless rope climbs
100-ft. handstand walk

Soccer Chipper results, Women Soccer Chipper results, Men
Sigmundsdottir 10:07.41 (EUR) Manuel 06:28.00 (PAC)
Webb CAP+1 (PAC) Vigneault 07:02.58 (CAN)
Cho CAP+1 (USA) Gudmundsson 07:27.79 (EUR)
Toomey CAP+2 (PAC) Garard 07:38.69 (PAC)
Abbott CAP+3 (CAN) Bailey 8:32.17 (USA)
Davidsdottir CAP+3 (EUR) Koski 08:37.90 (EUR)
Bazinet CAP+5 (CAN) Parker 10:15.44 (CAN)
Alvarez CAP+7 (USA) Froning n/a (USA)

 

This is just one event, but it’s interesting to note how well the Pacific athletes did relative to their competitors. 25 handstand push-ups is going to be a piece of cake for all of these guys, but one also has to consider their proficiency with the barbell in both the snatch and the clean. Looking at the statistics from the Speed Clean table, we know that all of the athletes cleaned heavier weight than the final 2-rep weight in this event (while fatigued). But what about for the snatch? Let’s look at the results from the Snatch Speed Ladder from this year’s Games:

Snatch Speed Ladder results Women, overall placing in event Snatch Speed Ladder results Men, overall placing in event
Davidsdottir 2nd (EUR) Parker 10th (CAN)
Toomey 6th (PAC) Gudmundsson 14th (EUR)
Sigmundsdottir 9th (EUR) Vigneault 16th (CAN)
Abbott 10th (CAN) Garard 19th (PAC)
Cho 14th (USA) Manuel 22nd (PAC)
Alvarez 16th (USA) Bailey 34th (USA)
Webb 21st (PAC) Koski 36th (EUR)
Bazinet 36th (CAN) Froning n/a (USA) Listed 1RM snatch is 306lbs

 

Does this make the picture any clearer? Not really. We know that Froning is the best Olympic lifter of the bunch and muscular endurance is not a problem for him, which is a huge advantage to Team USA. However, I think the closest battle will be between Team Europe and Team Pacific for 1st in event 4th. Numbers from both squads are fairly balanced, and both team’s coaches have had to deal with tire flips during the 2014 Invitational. Of course, I could be completely wrong here. I probably will be.

Event 4 Prediction:
1st: Team Europe
2nd: Team Pacific
3rd: Team USA
4th: Team Canada

Event 5: Synch, Row, Bike, Worm
For Time:
4 synchronized muscle-ups
5 synchronized muscle-ups
6 synchronized muscle-ups
7 synchronized muscle-ups

Men row 500 meters (each)
          Women static deadlift hold, 225 lb.
Women row 500 meters  (each)
          Men static deadlift hold, 315 lb.

Men bike 1,000 meters (each)

          Women static hold 135 lb. in front rack
Women bike 1,000 meters (each)
          Men static hold 185 lb. in front rack
20 Worm thrusters
10 Worm ground-to-shoulders

The teams will begin with two athletes on the pull-up rig and two athletes on the gymnastics rings.

One synchronized muscle-up rep = 1 bar muscle-up (Athlete 1) + 1 bar muscle-up (Athlete 2) + 1 ring muscle-up (Athlete 3) + 1 ring muscle-up (Athlete 4) completed in synchrony.

The athletes must do 4 reps in sync, then rotate and do 5 reps, then rotate and do 6 reps and finally rotate and do 7.

Next, the athletes will row while their partners hold the barbells at their waist.

Next, the athletes will bike while their partners hold the barbells in the front rack.

Last, the Worm ground-to-shoulders and thrusters will happen in 10-rep increments as the athletes advance down the competition floor.

This event is going to be complete chaos. We’ve seen synchronized events in team CrossFit competitions before, but never have all 4 athletes had to complete a muscle-up (bar/rings) as a unit before. The second portion of the workout is similar to that of event 4 from last year’s Invitational, where pairs had to row and perform a static deadlift hold. But in 2015, the athletes will also have to bike and hold deadlifts, before tackling the thrusters and ground to overhead work with the worm.

Now, obviously all of these athletes won’t have trouble completing the muscle-ups—assuming they practice synchronizing them, so it’s hard to guess who comes out of the gates in first. After that, it’s a question of endurance, stamina and teamwork. In such instances, we must look beyond statistics to the intangibles of competition.

In terms of experience, the advantage goes to Team Canada. Letendre, Parker and Bazinet competed together in the 2014 Invitational, and Bazinet was a member of 2013’s victorious Team World. Vigneault is the X-factor for this team, but no doubt he will look to pull his weight as part of a Canadian team that is seeking for redemption after just missing out on the title last year. Team Pacific is an intriguing entity. They field plenty of experience through Kara Webb and coach Rob Forte, who competed together for Team Australia at the Invitational last year. But the inexperience of Manuel, Toomey and Garard, combined with some of the lower numbers in the above statistics, leads me to believe that they will finish 4th once again this year.

Speaking of X-factors, is there one bigger than Rich Froning? Of course not. After an injury to 2015 Games champion Ben Smith, Froning, who was supposed to be the coach of the US team, stepped in to fill his place. The four-time Games champion has an unparalleled competitive fire—and the fitness to back it up. His presence makes Team USA an instant contender to win the entire competition, but will his teammates do enough for the USA to retain the Invitational title? It’s going to be tough!

The reason why is two-fold. First, Team Europe is fielding three podium finishers from the CrossFit Games this year (including the Fittest Woman on Earth), two more than Team USA (Froning as part of Team Mayhem Freedom) and Team Pacific (Toomey). On top of that will be the partisan European crowd. Anyone who has ever done a workout with the rest of the class cheering them on knows just how much of an advantage that will be—only this time, it will be a packed Caja Mágica making some serious noise for the European squad. Throw in the experience of coach Sam Briggs, and Team Europe look like strong contenders for the title. In the end though, the workouts seem to slightly favor Team USA. For these reasons, here are our final predictions (and it’s just that, a prediction!) for the 2015 CrossFit Invitational:

Final Prediction
1st: Team USA
2nd: Team Europe
3rd: Team Canada
4th: Team Pacific

Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

About Damect Dominguez

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

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