The CrossFit Games is the premier event that the entire competition calendar revolves around. It’s an opportunity for newcomers to build their reputation in the sport and for veterans to cement their legacies further.
But this year’s major off-season competitions — the Rogue Invitational and the Dubai Fitness Championship — have been just as thrilling, providing fans with plenty to talk about heading into 2023. That’s because these competitions, especially in the men’s division, featured uniquely tight races and questionable calls that spurred enough debate to last all winter.
Editor’s Note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Close Calls at the Rogue Invitational
A total of 30 points separated the top four men at the Rogue Invitational. And remember, this scoring system awards five points per place on every event, meaning six total placements, at most, separated the four athletes during the competition.
The tight competition definitely impacted Patrick Vellner, who fell from front-runner to overall fourth-place finisher after failing his last two reps of the final Rogue Invitational workout (Heavy Grace). A misstep like that cost him nearly $200,000. But if you look back at some of the other critical moments from that weekend, we realize that:
A questionable no-rep at the end of the first lunge in the Turtle workout may have cost Justin Medeiros several positions in that event.
The lanes drawn in the Duel II affected the placement and overall event results. And when it comes to measuring one’s fitness ability, lane assignment shouldn’t be a deciding factor.
The tiebreaker for the Log Lift — a Jerry Can race — played a huge part in the event’s overall results. A race like this also isn’t comparable to the log lift at all.
Additionally, it seemed that not every athlete had the same amount of time to attempt each log lift — which, in the case of Jeffrey Adler, might have cost him the overall competition win.
A Tight Dubai Fitness Championship
The DFC utilized the same scoring system as the Rogue Invitational. And at the end of the DFC, the top three men finished within five points of each other, meaning that the podium results came down to one place across eight events. One. Finishing. Place.
Throughout the weekend, plenty of moments — from miscues to potential missed calls — likely weighed heavily on the overall competition results:
There is a video from the elimination workout, Ride or Die, on Saturday night showing eventual champion Beneito touching the knot at the top of the rope instead of the required crossbeam during legless rope climbs.
In that same workout, there were several false starts. The judges were instructed to start the stopwatch whenever their athlete moved; however, the likelihood of getting that right, as opposed to having clean starts on chip timers, is very small. Human error shouldn’t play a factor in a major competition with $100,000 available for podium positions alone.
In the first real metcon of the weekend, Get a Grip, Fikowksi and Lazar Đukić finished within three-tenths of a second of each other in different heats. A small margin like that only gets magnified when stopwatches and human error enter the equation.
At the end of the interval-style workout, Fast Like an Oryx, Spanish CrossFitter Aniol Ekai stopped working a few seconds short of time running out. He ended up one rep behind Beneito, who took the overall win. If Ekai had kept working through the buzzer and performed two additional reps, he might have taken the win, dropping Beneito to second and altering the eventual outcome.
The finishes of both the Rogue Invitational and the DFC in the men’s division were as exciting as it gets. However, there’s also an uncomfortably high degree of uncertainty about whether the results were correct. The CrossFit Games aren’t perfect, but it’s generally agreed that the podium finishes are right.
With one more major off-season competition to go — Wodapalooza in mid-January — there’s another opportunity for an exciting finish. Still, the competition also needs to go off cleanly regarding workout design (including tiebreakers if necessary), scoring systems, critical judging decisions, and movement standards by athletes.
Featured Image: @dxbfitnesschamp on Instagram
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