New faces are increasingly upping the stakes in the 2010 season

2010 CrossFit Games Finals

Welcome to the Big Leagues

A surge in popularity has taken our sport from backyard to big time.

Everyone seems to agree that something was different about this year’s Regional qualifiers. The athletes who competed, their judges, and even the spectators cheering from the stands all recognized the same thing: That the level of competition they had all just witnessed was above and beyond what any of them had seen just a year ago.

So what changed?

The 2009 CrossFit Games were the first to require the pre-qualification of all competitors, ensuring that only the cream of the crop from around the world would make it to the ranch in Aromas. Seventeen Regional qualifiers, all open to the general public, sent their top athletes to the games.

This year, there were 13 Regional qualifiers that sent their top athletes to the Games. The difference, though, was that they had their own level of pre-qualification in the form of Sectionals. This meant that every athlete competing had provem themselves in prior competitions, further increasing the density of elite athletes on the field and turning up the heat on the competition. Out of this came a number of previously unknown firebreathers into the mix, such as Southeast’s Rich Froning and South Central's Candice Ruiz, to name just two. Regionals were also given far fewer slots to qualify athletes destined for the CrossFit Games, which again turned up the intensity.

The effect has been powerful. Going into this season, almost every region had the right to claim that their competition was “stacked” with powerful athletes. If the CrossFit Games weren’t already about leaving everything you have on the field, they certainly are now. Returning Games competitors battled for slots they couldn’t hold on to, and walked away empty handed. CrossFit legends like Josh Everett and Patrick Barber didn’t make it into the Top 10. A fact that Chris Spealler, who placed 1st in his Region both this year and last, was distinctly aware of.

“The level of competition this year was way higher” Spealler said describing his Northwest Regional competition. "The top 10 or 15 guys in every region are all capable of making it to the games, it just depends on the events and the day.”

Spencer Nix, who placed 9th overall in this year’s South-Central Regional, noted a distinct difference in the preparedness of his fellow competitors this year. “Last year you could have gone up to most of these athletes, asked them about their post workout nutrition, and got a bunch of blank stares. Guys who didn’t know what a foam roller was a year ago are bringing their own massage therapists, wearing compression shorts, and have a dialed-in post workout nutrition plan. Anything they can do to get that last one percent out of their performance.”

And with competition like this, one percent could make all the difference. Athletes are quickly learning that at this level, ten seconds can mean the difference between 1st and 10th place, and with so few slots available for the Games, more and more athletes are looking for something to give them an edge.

Another factor that may have played a roll in advancing the intensity of this year’s Regionals might be the host of local CrossFit competitions that have sprung up across the country. Many of the athletes competing this year have already have done numerous local and affiliate-based competitions before their Regional, gaining valuable experiences from competing and learning the do’s and don’ts of game day. In fact, CrossFit is so excited about these local competitions that we're launching a sanctioning process to support and develop local competitions.

Independent of their impact on the preparedness of Games athletes, friendly competitions will always be a part of the CrossFit community. Men, women, young and old, scaled and Rx'd, all deserve their own arenas. It happens every day in every affiliate, and with increasingly frequency between affiliates. And we're all better for it.

That being said, the CrossFit Games aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto. Not everyone is cut out to compete at the highest levels. The dedication required is so great, and margins for error so small, that our worldwide Games championships are no longer a local pick-up game. It's not hard to see that it is quickly turning into a professional sport. Welcome to the big leagues.

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11 comments on this entry

1. James wrote...

"In fact, CrossFit is so excited about these local competitions that we're launching a sanctioning process to support and develop local competitions."

More information please! I knew it would happen as the sport evolved!

2. Mark Lee- CrossFit Cape Cod wrote...

Yes please let us know who to talk to about the specks on sanctioned competitions-that is exactly what we are looking for!

3. Julie wrote...

I want to know why people have to take there tops off! Does it get instantly hot when you touch the bar or something? lol

4. Mark wrote...

*their

Male and female crossfitters both generate gratuitous amounts of heat during metcon WOD's. If it traps heat and could adversely impact performance, why keep a shirt on?

5. Dan wrote...

Cos then you can show off teh gunz better!

6. Julie wrote...

Mark...haha ha! thats sooo funny

7. Kyle wrote...

Please more details on the sanctioning process..

8. Heather wrote...

Drug testing really has to be instituted at some point otherwise this is about who's taking the best "supplements".

9. Mike wrote...

I'm sorry, maybe I'm being naive, but I don't see any crossfitters out there taking steroids right now. Hardly paleo.

Though I do suppose as competition purses grow, the allure of 'roids will as well.

10. Mika wrote...

Unless there is testing, how do you know? This can't be a legitimate sport unless they can prove that everyone is free of performance enhancing drugs. I can't believe it's never crossed your mind, people like to win and some will do anything.

11. Nukemarine wrote...

Anyone have the numbers on the total that competed at all the sectionals? Saying one's the fittest man or woman in the world holds more weight when you can add "out of the 10,000 that competed for the title this year."

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