Can anything be taken from the big competitions?

2015 OC Throwdown Female Podium

I’m so freaking excited for the CrossFit Open…then Regionals and then the Games. Can. Not. Wait. Thankfully, to tide me over a bit, there are a LOT of big competitions involving big name CrossFit athletes this month.

Two weekends ago the OC Throwdown happened (along with more bad press for the programmers).
Just this past weekend the Wodapolooza in Miami went down.
And this coming weekend the East Coast Championship will take place.

Here are some of the names who competed (these are just the names I recognize from watching Regionals and the Games the past few years):

OCT: Gerald Sasser, Brent Fikowski, Jon Pera, Kenny Leverich, Lindsey Valenzuela, Mandi Janowitz, Amanda Goodman, Alessandra Pichelli and Kris Clever competing individually with names like Neal Maddox, Amanda Allen, Chyna Cho, Andrea Ager and Becky Conzelman on teams.

Wodapalooza: EZ Muhammad, Matt Chan (first time competing since the 2013 Games), Garret Fisher, Jeff Evans, Will Moorad, Daniel Tyminski, Spencer Hendel, Cole Sager, Jordan Troyan, Noah Olsen, Gretchen Kittelberger, Ager, Dnaielle Sidell, Dani Horan, Natalie Newhart, Margaux Alvarez, Lauren Fisher, Emily Bridgers, Katrin Davidsottir and Sam Briggs. On the teams there was Wes Piatt, Pera, Nick Urankar, Ben Garard, Sasser, Adrian Conway, Brennan Fjord, Marcus Hendren, Graham Holmberg, Ben Smith, Maddox and on the girls teams we had Janowitz, Tiffany Hendrickson, Miranda Oldroyd, Katy Hogan, Clever and Stacie Tovar….whew! That’s a LOT of great CrossFitters.

This weekend the athletes scheduled to attend ECC are: Julie Foucher, Fisher (Garrett and Lauren), Dan Bailey, Scott Panchik, Kittelberger, Davidsdottir, Paul Tremblay, Tommy Hackenbruck, Muhammad, Lauren Brooks, Hogan, Talayna Fortunato (although I think she has a broken finger), Valenzuela, Olsen, Tovar, Tyminkski, Hendel, Christy Adkins, Bridgers, Clever, Austin Malleolo, Sager, James Hobart, Annie Thorisdottir, Val Vobril, Briggs, Mat Fraser, Alvarez, Evans, Becca Voigt, Leverich, Elisabeth Akinwale and Michelle Letendre. Another HUGE list of names. …oh and two guys named Chris Spealler and Rich Froning.

Between Wodapalooza and the ECC we have to have most of the top 10 finishers from the Games last year.

With all of these big names competing – and competing against each other – is there anything we can use to predict the 2015 CrossFit Games season? I would like to present a few things. First up, the ladies:

  • With apologies to Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet I think the fittest woman on Earth is clearly Sam Briggs. Just because she couldn’t walk on her hands last year she didn’t make the games. Had she been at the Games she would have won. She just obliterates her competition. She isn’t the strongest woman on Earth or even close to the strongest woman in CrossFit, but her motor is unmatched. At Wodapolooza she only had 35 points spread across nine events. She three first place finishes, two seconds and a third and a fourth. Her worst event was a ladder with heavy weight in which she finished 14th. She beat Bridgers by 16 points and Kaleena Ladeairous by 27 points – both Games athletes. Some might not think of her as a swimmer, but she won that event by a whopping 41 seconds. And the long chipper, the final event of the weekend, she won that by nearly ONE FULL MINUTE! She didn’t leave any doubt who was the fittest in Miami this weekend and I don’t see how she will be beaten at the Games, either.
  • Danielle Sidell hasn’t worked hard enough on her weaknesses. Last year at Regionals she was clearly not her best when she had to get upside down. She finished poorly at the handstand walk  (30th) and didn’t do well at all in the strict handstand pushup event (27th). In the other five events she didn’t finish worse than sixth with one event win and two second place finishes. This year at Woda the first event had strict handstand pushups and she finished 29th out of 30 and over five minutes slower than the event winner, Bridgers. If she doesn’t focus on that weakness she isn’t going to qualify for the Games this year, either.
  • Lindsey Valenzuela dominated the OCT competition winning by 19 points. She surprised me by doing very well in some of the longer events which, to me, says she has worked on her engine this year and it has paid off. It will be interesting to see how she does this weekend against slightly stiffer competition. Hard to count her out. Since she missed the Games in 2014 you know she has worked her ass off to get back in 2015.
  • Kris Clever is done as an individual athlete in CrossFit. It’s hard for shorter, lighter athletes to compete in CrossFit at the highest level. Without weight classes some are just plain at a big disadvantage. I think many knew she was done in terms of getting to the Games after last year, but her 15th place at OCT nails the coffin on her career as competing as an individual.
  • Speaking of smaller athletes, Natalie Newhart is doing pretty well with her tiny body. Many might remember her from the 2013 Games when she couldn’t life the deadlift weight on the final day (item #2 on my blog about the Games in 2013). Newhart, formerly McLain, won a local event here in Colorado around Thanksgiving and had a strong showing at Woda. She won one event and had three top-five finishes, but her crux is going to be her strength, or lack thereof. She is a tiny – can’t be more than 5’2″ and can’t weigh much more than a buck-20. Will her lack of strength keep her from the Games in 2015? I can’t wait to watch. Love rooting for the underdogs, especially when they call Colorado home.
  • Andrea Ager will miss the Games again. She is lacking top end strength, too. I give Newhart the edge to make the Games over Ager because Newhart beat her at the comp here at Thanksgiving (on Ager’s home turf) and placed higher than Ager at Woda.
  • What’s up with Alessandra Pichelli? Two times Games competitor finished ninth at the OC Throwdown. 55 points behind Valenzuela means she has a lot of catching up to do. It will be interesting to see if she does better this weekend at the ECC.

Now, for the men:

  • Loved watching Matt Chan from afar. Can’t wait to see him compete again. However, he had some really poor finishes in any event that required running. He took to Instagram and Twitter to explain that he walked due to knee soreness/issues. I don’t think it was pain otherwise I am guessing he would have pulled himself from competition.I’m sure he can make Regionals, even with a bad knee, so he has a few months to get that to 100% to give his best effort to make the Games. Watching other videos centered on Chan and the fact that he won one event and finished fifth in another I think that he is darn close to being back to the Matt Chan prior to the freak injuries.
  • Prior to this last weekend I would have put a lot of money on Mat Fraser winning the 2015 Games. Now? I have to think about Noah Olsen, too. Remember that he was on the top of the learderboard after the halfway point of the 2014 Games. The kid has the drive to push himself to be the best and he will definitely have a strong showing in 2015. He had five top-five finishes at Woda including a win on the final event.
  • Watch for Spencer Hendel to return to the Games in 2015. Hendel took third in his region in 2012 and then just missed the games in 2013 and 2014 by finishing fourth in each year. Hendel started Woda really slow (25th in the first event, probably due to the handstand pushups as he is a big guy and 24th on the assault bike), but he rebounded to have four top-four finishes in the final seven events and his worst finish in the final seven events was 11th, twice. In “classic CrossFit” he did really, really well. Even showed some great lung capacity. I wonder if he has given up on competing in weightlifting and returned his focus to CrossFit (he did not compete at Nationals in Washington DC a few months ago).
  • Will Moorad will not return to the Games in 2015. Again, smaller athlete, much like Newhart, but he didn’t really excel in any event at Woda. Some said that Regionals in 2014 tilted towards the smaller athlete (lots of upside down body-weight work) so 2015 could swing slightly back towards the strong athlete. I think the chance of a Cody Anderson or Moorad making the Games this year has shrunk.
  • Garret Fisher also was a flash in the pan. Fisher qualified for the 2013 Games and at one point was near the top of the leader board, but in 2014 he finished fifth in the NorCal Region and he finished 16th at Woda last weekend. His highest finish in any event was seventh (twice), but he also finished 20th or worse three times. Not good.
  • Same goes for EZ Muhammad – one event win at Woda and one fifth place finish, but four events 20th or worse.

Can’t wait for another solid weekend with good CrossFit competition. Will be interesting to see what happens at the ECC – but I think a lot of the big names are competing on teams. Hard to take much from the team event.

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One comment on “Can anything be taken from the big competitions?

  1. Great post! I’m loving all of these big competitions before the open. I agree Sam Briggs has one of the best motors but gotta give it to Camille last year! Even at regionals!

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