15.4 puts judging to the test

First, where is Val Voboril’s 15.4 score?! As I am writing this sentence it shows her with a no entry for 15.4.

voborilI hope there is a technicality of some sort because I love to root for her at the Games. I think she was second in the SoCal Region prior to this event trailing only Lauren Fisher.

OK, now that that is out of the way, on to the judging of 15.4. We all know that the quality of judging differs from one box to the next. From one judge to the next. From one coach to the next. Whether we are judging depth on overhead squats or whether or not the t-shirt touched the bar in a chest-to-bar pullup or if the chest itself actually touched, judging varies. With that being said, I think 15.4 put those varying standards to a real test.

I myself, even at my own box, felt I may have been judged a bit harder than others. First, I will say that I have a bum left shoulder. When I performed 15.4 on Friday I tried to shoulder press a 50 pound dumbbell with my right arm – no problem – light weight, but then I tried with my left and it was a real struggle. I did mobility, took my time and it sort of loosened up. I was able to do a handstand against the wall and was able to do a kipping pushup. I couldn’t do a strict handstand pushup, but I could kip. Shoulder wasn’t right, that’s for sure. I went on anyway.

My initial measurement for the line in which my heels needed to cross for the HSPU to count was deemed too low and I was re-measured. Even after the new measurement when I was testing my shoulder I was told my heels were well over the line. I didn’t get a picture or verify myself, took the word of the guys looking. Then, during the workout there were times in which I got into a full handstand, with my hands closer together than my usual HSPU and even my UPPER back touching the wall – no rep. I would get fully extended and then extend my scapula even more, hold it for a few seconds, push….PUSH even more and then come off the wall only to find it was a no-rep. I seriously wondered how getting over the line was even possible.

No complaint about my judge, he was doing it right. He was looking at my heels from nearly dead on eye level and ensuring both cleared the line. What I heard was that others from my box watched other members get judged and their judges were on their knees where their view of the persons heels they were judging were not at a proper vantage point to clearly see if they crossed the line.

But that isn’t what really concerns me, it is the measuring of the tape that really bothers me. I was nearly dead against the wall, upper back, butt, hands close to the wall and very little arch in my back. My hands were closer together than normal and it wasn’t my typical HSPU. Typically I am a bit further from the wall and a wider hand positioning, but that sort of technique wouldn’t help my heels get over the line – especially when I stood toes touching the wall, standing upright and arms fully extended.

I saw other people in my box further from the wall, arches in their backs and their heels were WELL over the line. How is that possible? If you take a yard stick and stand it flat against the wall (3 feet high) and then take it and move it even just 3 inches away from the wall at the bottom it isn’t going to be as high. So if you take a person, who when standing dead against the wall, arms fully extended touching a spot 6 feet high (keep it even for the sake of ease), then when they put their hands 5 or 6 inches away from the wall there is NO WAY they could get their heels over a line that was dropped down 3 inches from their full reach. Add in an arched back and the fact that their hands are now spread wider than thumbs touching and it just doesn’t make sense, mathematically.

Am I right? Am I losing my mind? If you take a yard stick away from the wall and bend it there is no way it will reach its original spot.

The judgement on the tape and then dropping it 3 inches left SOO much room for error. When I see anyone, professionals included, with their backs arched a bunch and hands away from the wall and wider than shoulder width apart and their heels over the line, I find it REALLY REALLY hard to believe the tape was measured correctly.

Here are a few examples. And before I get into them let me say that I root for Lindy Barber all the time due to her history with her back. I like each one of these athletes and am not picking on them. I don’t think they cheated or anything like that, I just think this standard is really, really hard to judge and/or measure.

Look at that arch and her hands are at least 6 inches from the wall. I find it hard to believe her heels are over the line if she stood with her toes touching the wall, arms and scapula fully extended and thumbs touching. Dropping the line 3 inches wouldn’t cover the loss in height due to her hand position (both in terms from how far from the wall they are and how wide) and the arch in her back (your back doesn’t arch like that when standing up straight).

Hard to see how much her back is arched, but look how wide her feet and hands are. That has to take away at least a few inches, right? Maybe 2? Maybe 3? Let’s say 2 inches, but her feet still clear the line by what appears to be at least 2 inches? If you stood looking at a wall, toes touching the wall and reached as high as you could (is what the standards are asking for), feet together, hands basically together and marked that line, then moved your feed outside your hips (where her feet are) and hands outside of that, you would lose a few inches, at least 2, right? How come it seems like she still has plenty of room over the line?

At least in this video her heels are barely getting over the tape. With how wide her hands are it makes sense that she would really struggle to get her heels over the line. However, and this is keyboard judging, doesn’t it appear that the first rep shown does not CLEARLY get over the line? Again, our vantage point is weak, but the standards make 15.4 very rough.

Finally I have a video:

In this video Alexandra LaChance appears to measure correctly, but we never see if she is standing fully erect or if her scapula is fully extended or if she might be spreading her legs really wide (I seriously doubt that, but we don’t see it). Her feet do BARELY get over the line, which is what you would expect (not getting well over the line like Brooks above), but as the video goes on it is REALLY hard to tell – definitively – that her heels clear the tape (the matching tape to her shoes was either a bad idea, or a brilliant one depending on your goal). A lot of reps it looks like her heels reach the top of the tape, maybe, but do not get over it.

There are so many examples of this and in a movement as difficult as a handstand pushup if you have to extend that extra inch versus everyone else, that is a big deal. If definitely was in my book.

If I had a ton of time I would put together a series of pictures starting with the measurement through a fully extended handstand with hands no more than 2 or 3 inches from the wall, narrow width to a handstand with the hands 6+ inches from the wall, wide width. The math doesn’t add up for many of these pictures.

It is what it is and CrossFit tries to make a standard other than “locking of the arms” because I am sure that would have been even more difficult to judge.

Anyone else see anything that didn’t add up with this WOD? Any experiences where judging was different?


Here is the video of the girl who won 15.4: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=877918008916725

Just notice how relaxed her arms/shoulders look when she is measured for her HSPU line. I can tell you I was EXTENDED when I was measured and she surely could reach higher than she did. Then they put the tape below the 3 inch line where as we put the tape on the 3 inch line. I guess I should have pulled my scapula back when being measured…would have saved me a few inches and saved me about 12-15 no reps.

There just isn’t a way to make sure everyone measures their tape the same. Just isn’t. Which makes this “sport” not a sport.

One comment on “15.4 puts judging to the test

  1. […] I wrote about this two years ago. How athletes are able to get their heels above the line when they are several inches (feet?) from the wall or super wide hands just doesn’t make mathematical sense. As I note in my original blog post if you place a rule flat against a wall with the end of the ruler placed where the floor meets the wall…and then move that end away from the wall the ruler will obviously not be as high. Does this seem to make sense for HSPU? Even with the three inch drop from where your wrists are measured? […]

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