Ranking the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games
The 2012 Games ranked, in my book, as the most spectator friendly, enjoyable Games to watch thus far. The majority of the events – excluding the initial triathlon (but that wasn’t even on TV so who cares) – were fast paced 10-15min long workouts. There were rarely any dead spots, such as the ‘Killer Kage’ event last year where spectators were forced to look on as athletes rode stationary bikes (exhilarating!).
One of the cleverest programming strategies the Games have at their disposal, and something they really took advantage of this year and last year, is using a visual representation to show who is leading the event. What I mean by that is during certain events, just by looking at the field of competition, anyone watching would be able to tell who is in the lead. For example this year, during the ‘Rope-Sled’ event, just by looking at the football field you were able to tell who was leading by how far each athlete had pushed his/her sled. The same could be said about the ‘Clean Ladder’ and last year during the ‘Dog Sled’ event. This simplifies the process for the spectator who no longer needs to count reps to discern who’s in the lead.
Short intense workouts mixed with an easy viewing experience equates to the most enjoyable Games from a spectators perspective.
However, the 2012 Games still doesn’t rank as the hardest Games to date. The Games with that title still belong to the 2009 CrossFit Games. Though, the 2012 Games did give the 2009 Games a run for its money – I might even place it up there as the second toughest Games – but 2009 takes the cake by far. The 2009 was a devastating mixture of long endurance events, brutally heavy lifts (see: 7k run immediately followed by a 505lb deadlift ladder), unique skill tests, and the short intense workouts CrossFit is famous for…oh and did I mention that it was all squeezed into only 2 days of competition!
Just look at it from that perspective. The 2012 Games consisted of 15 separate scored events (of which 2 were part of the same triathlon, 3were 50pt skill tests, and the final event counted as 3 separate events – 15 scored events becomes 9 actual events) over the course of 4 days; compare that to 2009 which had 8 events over the course of 2 days. Athletes dropped out of the competition, not because they were cut, but because their bodies couldn’t take any more abuse and were shutting down. Mikko Salo took the title of ‘Fittest on Earth” that year, but a recent string of injuries have kept him from attempting to reclaim the top spot and wrestle the throne away from Froning.
As far as winners are concerned, the only thing worth saying to those people who don’t believe Froning will take home the title once again in 2013, or better yet, think they have a shot at beating the champ is: Good Luck! He’s too good. Too far ahead of the rest of the field. He summed it up himself beautifully in a recent journal article, “It’s not that you have to be the best at anything; you just can’t suck at anything. I sucked at a rope climb and what happened? CrossFit’s not just a physical thing. It’s more mental, I think. I’m sure there’s people out there way fitter than me, physically—but mentally and physically …” Bingo!
To become CF Games champ, you don’t necessarily have to be better than most at the majority of movements, quite the opposite actually: you can’t have any glaring weaknesses that will, inevitably, come back to bite you in the ass. And what’s worst is the fact that Rich knows this – better than most I would assume – which is why he is so dominate. He’s never going to beat himself– he learned that the hard way. If you want the crown from Rich Froning, be prepared to rip it from his hands!
Now on the flip side, the title for “Fittest Woman on Earth” is a much more debatable topic. My bold prediction for 2013: Annie won’t be standing atop the podium in the middle of the Home Depot Center come July. Why? Nothing against Annie, I know she’ll be back even stronger, even more prepared than she was in 2012, the difference is the rest of the field. It’s been an increasing pattern since 2010 – when Annie and Kristen damn near won every event – to 2011 where their supremacy faded to 2012 when it was downright questioned – Kristen wasn’t even on the podium in 2012! The women’s field has made such HUGE strides over the past few years. It’s no longer Annie and Kristen and then everyone else.
I think this year, more than any year prior, there is a short list of competitors with a real legitimate shot at taking the top spot and dethroning Annie (Julie Foucher would have been on the top of my list had it not been for her decision to forgo the Games in favor of Medical School). In the end, it all really comes down to which WODs come out of the hopper – Heavy weights? Watch out for Akinwale and Valenzuela. High Skill? Fortunato and Leblanc-Bazinet are former elite level gymnasts.
If anything, this idea that the “Fittest Woman on Earth” isn’t a forgone conclusion is great for the sport of CrossFit. The fact that any number of women could potentially find themselves atop the podium come July. What more could you want from a competition? The women’s individual division this year is shaping up to be the most competitive in Games history!
UNLESS, and this is always possible with a sport as new as CF. A dark horse comes along to shock the CF world and take the title away from Rich or Annie. The same way Rich seemingly came out of nowhere to take 2nd place in 2010 and Fortunato taking 3rd place this year at the Games. As CF grows and reaches a new audience every year, so too does the possibility of a dark horse coming out of the woodwork. That’s what makes this sport so great: the unknown and the unknowable.
The 2012 CrossFit Games began with a CF first: a triathlon at Marine base Camp Pendleton. However, the Games in 2013 won’t provide another ‘first’ like year’s past. Rather, the Games will begin with a return to the roots of the Games itself – the ranch at Aromas California! The site of the first CF Games will make its return in an attempt to educate all the newbies about where it all began. The ‘Woodstock of Fitness.’ Mark it down now – Event 1 at Rancho de Castro!