The Games – Event by Event Analysis

Swim/Muscle Up

This was awesome. In my opinion better that any other opener of The Games, with the exception of “Amanda”. “Amanda” changed the level of what you need to be a Games athlete and was exciting to watch, just like the swim.


It was a beautiful couplet, where both the swim and the muscle ups mattered and were weighted equally. Weakness in one could cost you, and they also had an impact on the other movement. To me this is exactly what a perfect workout should entail. After two years of longish open water swims, it was cool to do a sprint swim in the pool.

Strategy mattered, as early heats took up to 30 seconds to dry off and chalk up before attempting a BMU. Resting at 25m took 5-7 seconds, and a flip kick could earn you another 3-5 seconds in speed. Dismounting each muscle up changed the game too, as athletes wouldn’t have practiced fast repeat singles.

I think no one would have practiced this, as even if the athletes were doing pool workouts, they wouldn’t have added in pull ups or bar muscle ups due to equipment constraints. Most likely it was push ups, burpees, maybe a Kettlebell or barbell if you were lucky.


Also a really good test to kick start The Games. Everyone in CF rows, but no one would have rowed that distance. The sprint at the start made it interesting, as it gave HQ another chance to go against conventional wisdom in endurance events. It was cool to see that many Concept2s lined up, although it did get boring as hell to watch.


This was The Games’ ‘grunt’ test, just move things. I didn’t get to watch this but I’d love to see Anders Larson do an analysis of this. Did the run matter at all? Was it balanced or did The Pig count for the majority? Talking to athletes after this it seems figuring the technique out and pacing that was the toughest part. The iditirod (why is it called that?) felt like the football sled last year. Is that because of what came before it, or it sucks on its own?


Personally I would have loved to have seen all carries, back and forth, back and forth. Start with a farmers carry, then a sandbag or two, then a wheelbarrow, then a yoke, sled push/pull, pig and a drag. I think that would make for a very cool test and event.

Zig Zag Sprint
I really liked this one too. Good straight up agility test and a good test of athleticism.

I think if their was two or three sets of four obstacles it would reveal more. Maybe once you’ve cleared the first, shuttle up and back and hit it again?


I hear murmurings of people being sure they were ahead of other athletes only to find their official time disputing this. In the heat of battle you can’t accurately tell where you are versus your competition, but it does make me question the accuracy of the timing chips. It’s for this reason a longer run would be better I think I’d also like to see a repechage in place. Plus, I like the word repechage.

For all the bitching and moaning about how nobody practices the legless rope climb at this stage you use know that Castro loves putting things out that trip up Games-calibre athletes. Heck, the rope climb in 2010 stopped Froning from winning. How many people learned how to do swirmy upside down ring climbs ring handstand push ups after 2010? Cordner-Carson couldn’t swim in 2011. Bar muscle ups were introduced in 2012, along with stones, deficit HSPU, and football sleds. It achieved its aim too. I saw guys wince in agony at the forearm pain they were in once it was over. It was like watching some year two CrossFitter do his first sub 5 “Fran” and just not know where to put his arms to find relief.


There is always something new and ‘too hard’ introduced every Games that just becomes standard fare in a year or two. Rope climbs and axle bars become Regional standard tasks this year. I’m willing to bet we might see handstand push ups become an Open standard task next year, as it will lead to a better calibre of Regionals athletes. Strict deficit HSPU will be the standard at some future Games.

The issue with this workout is that the barbell component counted for nothing. 95/65# for those reps were nothing for these guys, and not a separator in the workout. I’m sure in the update show they talked about seeing the athletes break up thrusters they’d normally destroy but ain’t nobody lost that on the rest during their 15 thrusters. You could have just made the workout 10 legless rope climbs.

Naughty Nancy
Ouch bro!

A huge criticism was that until The Games, running hadn’t been tested all season. So was three running events an attempt to correct this? Or course, another criticism was that their was too much running based events in this year’s Game.

Those steps we surprisingly brutal, and you even saw athletes try different strategies to get up and down. For example, Chan and a few others would hold onto the handrails and swing down the steps. Hackenbruck slid down one!

Naughty Nancy was in there as their supped up named workout, similar to Hell-en in 2011. It was also out in so when the athletes hit the Clean & Jerk ladder, it could disprove conventional wisdom on maxing out lifts. Not sure it worked though, as I think Froning was 30lbs shy of his max.


C&J Ladder

This was probably my favourite event from a visual standpoint. It made it easy to see who was ahead and I’m sure it looked good on ESPN.


I would love it if they required a jerk, and not an overhead anyhow press out. The argument is that judges can’t see this and you’d have inconsistencies. For a start there is already inconsistencies in judging, so I think that point in moot. Secondly if you don’t raise the standards then they’ll never be met. The standards are raised each year in terms of weight lifted, gymnastic strength/skill/endurance, what tasks you need to be able to do just to play and how much you need to be able to withstand. So why not raise the standard in proficiency of movement? For this reason as well I’d like to see ‘snatches’ in The Open become actually snatches. Power or *shudder* squat snatches okay, but leave your fucking press outs at home.

This was my least favourite event of The Games. I think it was there purely so Pat Sherwood could lose his shit on the update show saying how amazed he was that the times were s much faster. I think we all know how much better Games athletes are now vs 2007. Did we have to waste a test to show it?


For the second time in the tennis stadium, the barbell component counted for nothing. I had to lol when Boz explained that if you split jerked 85 pounds you had to bring your feet back to the same plane. Amazingly, no one did. This was a pull up workout.

Now, was there a deliberate attempt to move away from the barbell at The Games? I think there was and called it a few months back. With the huge focus and celebration of strength being the foundation of competitive CrossFit, you had to feel that Castro would try and prove that wrong. (For the record, I hate the word prove, but it’s used a lot in our sport so I’m using it here.)

While strength may be the foundation of the sport, you need a base level of strength just to get on the field, absolute strength isn’t going to be the deciding factor. After that, gymnastics endurance and cardiovascular endurance will become the deciding factors. “Legless” and “2007”proved this.

Will this be the case in 2014? I expect gymnastics to play a huge roll but expect another component of fitness to play a more prominent roll. The only prediction I’m willing to make now
(bearing in mind that experts in any field are only experts at decoding what’s happened and what’s happening, and not at what will happen) is that there’ll be more straight up tests like the zig zag sprint in 2014. They’ll be tests that are hard, if not impossible to train precisely for.

Find link on experts and predicting to put in here.

Sprint Chipper
This was the cycle time test, or meant to be. Everything was meant to be unbroken and so it would come down to who could move the fastest on each movement.

It was a good little workout, with each part playing a roll, though the snatches were the divider. It was good to have the snatches relatively heavy. The GHD played the smallest part in this, although you could buy up to 15 seconds here. Whether they cost you or not I do not know.

There was no wall in the warm up area so athletes had to jump into the stands to warm this up. The wall burpee is a good test movement, as you could see differences in efficiency (a HUGE part of what the sport tests) factor in here.

On the warm up area. It needs to be bigger, with more equipment, and they need to be put afoot down. Once a few barbells are dropped on the grass it starts to get very uneven and there’s a danger there. Ain’t nobody want to sprain an ankle in an easily avoidable situation.

Cinco 1 & 2
The Games started strong and finished strong. Two great, balanced tests.

“Cinco 1” raised the level of what’s a ‘heavy’ dead. No one is ever, ever allowed talk about the deads in Diane being heavy. With the top guys dead lifting up to 600lbs, 405 is about 60-70%. Of course, for some athletes it was in excess of their 1RM (on the ladies’ side). This was balanced out by the handstand walk. The handstand walk counted for 1 rep in scoring, so next year lets hope that they graduate the mat so judges can record feet to separate athletes who finished mid walk.


“Cinco 2” was then a great gymnastics couplet followed by a heavy challenging lunge. We used the front rack in Regionals so the overhead lunge was a great progression. After the heavy deads had pulled your back into serious extension, flexing for the kipping HSPU became so much more difficult. Whether this was by design or accident this again punished those with deficiencies in their deadlifts.

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