The dust has settled and the 40 men, women and teams going to Madison for the 2018 CrossFit Games is set. But one aspect of the last three weeks of regional competition remains a hot topic among some athletes. That issue is the inconsistent judging of the “new” handstand push-up standard at regionals.
The handstand push-up standard at regionals in recent years has been to keep your hands within a 3-foot by 2-foot box, only your feet can be in contact at the wall at the top of the push-up and to not overly arch the back when fully pressed out. That last criteria is where the controversy lies this year.
The standards were adjusted, or at least more clearly defined compared to previous years, in that the athlete’s hips were to be fully extended (no arch) and the athlete’s body should make a straight line. The problem is that the consistency of judging has been questioned by athletes, including Rich Froning via his Froning and Friends podcast.
During Episode 32, Regional Recap, Froning talks about Event 6 for the teams and how it was just a matter of how many no reps your team could avoid. Froning said that the team in the lane next to them, OC3 Black, was getting no repped a ton.
In talking with Colin Cartee of OC3 Black, he said their judge was holding the standard of “no arch” to the highest of standards while judges around them were allowing athletes to get away with arching. OC3 Black did not finish their 144 handstand push-ups until 4:30 into the event, a full 90 seconds after Froning and Mayhem Freedom left for the Worm lunges. Fortuntately for OC3 Black, the work they had done in the previous five events was enough to easily qualify for the Games.
Fast forward to 2:17:00 for the start of Event 6 in the video below.
The handstand judging was not limited to just the team competition. On the individual side, Mekenzie Riley encountered issues with judging. During the final heat of Event 5, Riley was the last athletes off the handstand push-up wall. She finished at 3:17, at the same time as some women began transitioning to the Assault Bike.
Riley would battle back on the toes-to-bar, bike and box step overs to cross the finish line at 17:28. Riley’s score, however, would be adjusted by one minute to 16:28 following the event. It is unclear how or why the scoring adjustment was made. That minute adjustment did not make an impact on the overall standings, but did move Riley up three spots worth 12 points.
So if some of the top athletes in the world are complaining about the handstand push-up standard and how the judging standard significantly varies on the competition floor, how can CrossFit adjust going forward?
Froning made a comment on his podcast about going back to strict HSPUs. Others have commented that figuring out a way to use a line, similar to the Open, that can be quickly adjusted between heats might be the way to go.
The final answer is still yet to be determined. CrossFit is still a going sport and is still defining how to tests its athletes on the way to crown The Fittest on Earth. Movement standards have evolved each year and the handstand push-up standard can be expected to receive more thought during the offseason (or even before the Games).
Don’t be surprised if another standard is unveiled during next year’s Open (with hopefully less calculus needed) or if the HSPU takes a year off to give more time to CrossFit to better define how to measure the movement. Either way, CrossFit needs to figure out a way to make sure the playing field is level the next time HSPUs are programmed in competition. Until then, get upside down.