The 2010 CrossFit Games
The ultimate proving grounds of the world’s fittest athletes.
July 16-18, 2010 • Carson, CA
The Home Depot Center Sports Complex
Select a 2010 CrossFit Games event
United States Qualifiers
Skill vs. Will
Russell Berger examines the "suck factor" and what it means to CrossFitters.
The following comes from Russell Berger on the development of the CrossFit Games.
Describing the CrossFit Games as “growing rapidly” just doesn’t cut it anymore. We are witnessing the birth of a new sport.
Increasing popularity aside, the CrossFit Games are continuing to push the boundaries of human performance. In 2010, the CrossFit community witnessed the exclusion of more than one of its legendary competitors from the finals in L.A. Many athletes who had competed in the 2009 Games noted that the level of competition and difficulty at their regional qualifier was equal to what they had seen in Aromas the year before.
With amazing athletes starting to pop up across the globe, simply making it through all the qualifying events for the international-level main competition has become an impressive achievement. What’s even more disturbing is that the best in the world keep getting better. The ripples from performances from greats like Rob Orlando, Chris Spealler, Mikko Salo and Jason Khalipa are being felt throughout the community. Even programming on CrossFit.com—always designed to challenge the abilities of the world’s best athletes—has become noticeably more difficult as its strongest and fastest followers continue to improve their fitness.
What does all of this mean for the final events set to take place in L.A.? We can only guess, but I’d wager we are going to see the world’s best take on challenges that push the limits of what is physically possible.
It’s easy to imagine that at some point the genetic freaks of the world are going to migrate toward this rapidly growing and rapidly more lucrative sport. What about a gifted collegiate athlete who played on a D1 football team but didn’t quite make it to the professional level? How difficult would it be for that athlete to show up and crush it in his sectional or regional, edging out all of the guys and girls we used to think of as firebreathers? When the cash prize gets big enough, and when enough spectators and potential sponsors start watching the events on their televisions and computers, isn’t it likely that we’ll see athletes like this?
Maybe, but maybe not.
The one factor that makes the CrossFit Games so unique, and so painful, is the unknown. Athletes who make it to the Games are capable of two very important things: enduring suffering and working on their weaknesses.
Many of CrossFit’s best athletes have backgrounds in sports that are known for their “suck factor.” Spealler and Eric O’Connor both wrestled competitively in college, while Matt Chan played water polo. They’re athletes who worked hard and achieved success but have now found a new sport that rewards their hard work even more directly.
Others, such as 2010 competitors Pat Burke (North Central Regional), Deric Maruquin (South Central Regional), Candice Ruiz (South Central Regional) and Ryan Lilienthal (North Central Regional), as well as 2009 competitors including Steve Smith and Steve Willis, have military backgrounds where physical ability is meaningless in the absence of a strong will and mental fortitude. These athletes learned how to work hard, which is, perhaps more than anything else, what you need to produce a fast Fran time.
Many of the world’s best athletes are born with raw talent. They have the strength, speed, power and coordination to literally walk onto the field, court or ice and make everyone else look like they’re standing still. What these guys often lack isn’t physical ability but the experience of failure. When you don’t have your weaknesses highlighted, they stay weak, but you also don’t learn to deal with them. When you don’t struggle, you don’t learn to overcome, and adversity can derail talent in short order.
But when you know how to work—how to really work and persevere in the face of adversity—you have a special talent that goes beyond being able to shoot a three-pointer or throw a football through a tire. Regardless of which man and women win the 2010 CrossFit Games, it’s certain they will be talented athletes, but it’s also certain that they’ll have the determination and willpower that make them CrossFitters.