For the most part, athletes in a CrossFit competition end up completing the same amount of work. Sure, time caps and max lift events do create a bit of a discrepancy of workload, but those differences are usually pretty minimal. To reduce the workload differences, minimum work requirements and/or requirements to “keep trying” have worked with varying success (think Alex Caron at Semifinals this year).
But what happens when the programming creates massive differences in work completed between athletes? What if that those differences are confined to one day of competition with more events programmed the next day?
Well, that’s exactly what happened at the Rogue Invitational on Saturday. There were three events programmed that day – 10th Inning, The Duel III and the Max Deadlift. Those last two events, because of the event structures, created massive differences in workload between the athletes.
For example, Dani Speegle pulled over 8,500 pounds from the floor on Saturday. That is over double the weight pulled compared to the average female athlete!
Your first thought might be, “Well, of course, Dani lifted more weight because she did so well on the deadlift ladder.” While that is true, what if I told you Dani lifted more cumulative weight in those events compared to anyone, male or female?
Yep, Dani lifted 8,570 pounds. Jayson Hopper lifted the most among the men at 8,240 pounds. The reason? Dani (and Alex Gazan) had to endure 18 deadlift attempts Saturday night. Now compare that to Emily Rolfe and Elena Carratala Sanahuja who only successfully deadlifted the first two barbells.
While there was still a discrepancy occurred on the men’s side, it wasn’t to the same extent. Jayson Hopper, Chandler Smith, Pat Vellner and Tudor Magda all lifted over 8,200 pounds on Saturday while the average weight lifted was 5,265 pounds.
Take a look at the total weight lifted from the floor between The Duel III and the Max Deadlift events:
E5 & E6
|Elena Carratala Sanahuja||450||620||1,070|
E5 & E6
|Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson||1,200||1,425||2,625|
In an era where minimum work requirements and the “keep trying” rule has been enforced to keep athletes from gaming the system and/or to ensure the athletes do similar amounts of work throughout the competition, what happens when the programming causes the discrepancy?
And to be clear, I’m not advocating for minimum work requirements or enacting the “keep trying” rule, especially in a showcase-type competition like the Rogue Invitational. Instead, my thought is that the potential for such a large discrepancy should be accounted for in the programming.
With as much pulling as there was at Rogue this year (keep in mind, all of these athletes did 120 power snatches earlier in the day), should back-to-back events been programmed in such a way that some athletes could pull over four tons in the span of five hours compared to some who didn’t even pull one ton?
I believe the answer should be: no. Even without reprogramming the events, the Duel III could have had consolation rounds for those eliminated so that someone like Shelby Neal, who was eliminated in the 1st round had to give the sandbags another lift. And for the deadlift ladder, allowing athletes to choose where they started along the way would have prevented Speegle and Gazan from lifting 18 times Saturday night.
You might argue that Dani earned 195 points for her effort between the two events and so the discrepancy is okay. My response is, “Why is extra work required in a lifting event, but not in a monostructural or gymnastics-based event?” Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr wasn’t required to run further in Texas Heavy to walk away with 100 points. Neither was Danielle Brandon when she handstand walked her way to an event win on Big Cat. So why would it be okay to require Dani to lift over double the average athlete to earn those points?
There’s no way to prevent discrepancies in the amount of work athletes complete during a competition, especially when elimination-style or max lifts are in the mix. However, event organizers should, in my opinion, think about potential situations where athletes could be required to do significantly more work than others due to the programming itself.