SemiFinal Recap, Regionals vs Semis, Pay Judges, Best Semis Moment, AIR, Injuries, The Week Ahead 5.29.23

The North America West SemiFinals were an amazing experience for the fans and the athletes. It felt great to have a high level CrossFit competition back in California again!

AÑEJO SEMIFINALS RECAP – After a 4 year hiatus from post-Quarterfinals competition, Diablo delivered a team to the CrossFit Games SemiFinals in Pasadena after finishing 34th in the North America West Region. Our team, Beth Stankevich (34), Emily Scott (30), Jackson Miller (28) and Kristjahn Boyd (28) came together as a team after their outstanding individual performances in the Open – and put up a strong enough performance together in the Quarters to make it to Semis. As soon as they qualified, they did their best to coordinate training times together: no easy task for a Firefighter (Kristjahn), two athletes with full-time jobs (Beth & Emily) and one of Diablo’s busiest Coaches (Jackson). To complicate matters, shortly after QtrFinals, Kristjahn and his Fiancee had a pre-scheduled vacation to Costa Rica while Emily and her husband Sean purchased their 1st home in Lodi (where the plan to move). Nonetheless, the team rallied together to get in as many team training sessions as possible together, including late evenings and weekends – under the coaching expertise of Jamie Lee and Alessandra Pichelli.

Day 1 (Good Start, Frustrating Finish): The Team performed as expected in their first workout – an endurance test: 4 rounds of a big buy-in: 2 athletes working on the Echo Bike and Rower and the other 2 bear-hugging a very heavy sandbag while the other completed 150 double unders, then the team came together to complete 10 worm clean and jerks. Our team worked together efficiently until they reached a judge’s challenge in the LAST round of 10 clean & jerks. The bag was to remain in the lane (left & right) but Añejo’s judge no-repped the team multiple times when their bag landed slightly behind the rear lane line. No other team was held accountable for keeping the worm in line front to back. So, instead of finishing 2nd or 3rd in their heat of 10, they fell to 6th in the heat and 28th overall. It was frustrating, but they recovered and met their expectations for Test 2: sychro ring & bar muscle ups and thrusters, finishing in 29th overall.

Day 2 (Disaster Strikes): the team looked forward to Test 3: a gauntlet-style workout where each athlete must complete all the work before the next athlete can go. Emily got the team started with the workout: 400m Run, 10 DB Bench Press, 15 single-leg squats on each leg and then 3 handstand walk pirouettes. Unfortunately, Emily’s judge did not understand the workout and required Emily to do 30 single-leg squats on each side (a considerable volume increase). After completing 15 on her right leg, the judge told her she had 8 more (she was counting 2 pistols as 1 rep) – and Emily assumed she was getting no-repped, but didn’t know what for. The head judge finally intervened when he saw the discussions with Emily and her judge – and corrected the judge. But by then, Emily had done 30+ pistols including a few more no-reps due to fatigue. Emily was literally crying and shaking by the time she moved on to the pirouettes, knowing that she had held up her entire team behind her. She was devastated. After the massive time delay, only Jackson was able to complete the workout. Beth made it to the pistols and Kristjahn never got to start. The team appealed but was only awarded 6 more reps because: “we do not know if the last athlete on the floor (Beth) had the capacity to do pirouettes” (she did..ugh). Diablo had to take a 32nd place on Test 3. 

Day 3 (Redemption): On the last day of competition, Añejo knew they had work to do and that it would not be easy. Test 5 was a Clean ladder with 3 heavy barbells – 1 minute at each with 2 minutes rest. The final barbell for women: #235(!) – for men: #315! The last barbells were PR weights for the women and near PRs for the men. They finished in 28th with 35 total reps. But, it was the last workout of the event, Test 6, that provided some measure of satisfaction for Añejo – a combination of handstand push ups, rope climbs as a buy in, with 60 total worm burpees and squats. Diablo was nervous headed into this workout – not able to make the time cap in practice (16min) mostly due to the very taxing, wall-facing strict hspus and seated, legless rope climbs. Yet, the team found new resolve and beat their practice score considerably – finishing in 28th.

After the dust settled and all heats completed, Diablo finished the North America West Semi Finals in 34th overall – 1 spot ahead of their qualifying placement. They learned an incredible amount and had a very positive experience. Most of all, they endeared themselves to our Diablo community, especially the 20ish members who traveled down to cheer them on. 

ALMOST THERE  The 2011 to 2018 CrossFit Games Regionals were an amazing experience for the athletes and especially the fans. From the Santa Clara Fairgrounds to the Del Mar Race Track & Fairgrounds, CrossFitters from all over the West came together to hang out, cheer on their affiliate athletes and teams and shop the many cool vendors selling CrossFit gear, accessories and food items. Most of the past Regionals also had Affiliate tent areas where affiliate members could hang out in between events. A lot of friendships were made during those days.

The 2023 SemiFinals provided an excellent viewing experience for the fans, and an organized, well-planned workout event for the athletes. Pasadena is a great town and the downtown location of the event provided easy access to lodging, good food and shopping distractions.

On the “needs improvement” side, the Semis didn’t keep the CrossFit community together in between events. There were few places to eat on site and the vendor area was in another building. The event facility was modern, but very sterile. Some fans I spoke to yearned for the more relaxed, outdoor environment of the former “fairground” Regionals. And, the vendors were clamoring for more foot traffic. I’m confident that the Games team will make improvements for next year.

JUDGING MERITOCRACY  Judging athletes at a high-level, broadcasted CrossFit event in a crowded, loud venue with lots of fans is a very stressful role. I personally do not want any part of it. But, there are many qualified judges who are willing to do the job. And, it is an incredibly important and necessary job that is the foundation for a successful and fair competition. And, consistency and accuracy of judging are essential. Currently, CrossFit relies on qualified volunteers for judging. And many of the volunteer are high quality judges. But, judging errors and inconsistencies still happen – and in Diablo’s case, twice in separate workouts. Fortunately, CrossFit has an appeal process, but the appeals team appeared overwhelmed with the requests from teams and individual athletes at this event.

I am confident that the CrossFit Games team, specifically Adrian Bozman, will continue to improve judging accuracy and consistency. And eventually, I’m betting that technology will provide the most consistent and accurate judging. In the meantime, however, I think that CrossFit could reduce errors by professionalizing the judging role and compensating judges – similar to other professional sports. It’s time.  
LIVE WITH DR. BETH – Did you know Diablo Añejo Team member Beth Stankevich has a PhD? Neither did I! She’s also a former CrossFit Games athlete, from CrossFit Davis’ team. She’ll be live on our PRsAllDay podcast on Monday, Memorial Day at 11AM to talk about the team experience at Regionals and give her insight on the happenings in Pasadena. Watch it live on YouTube tomorrow!

TWEET OF THE WEEK: If the ‘07–‘13 CrossFit Games and CFG athletes had to endure today’s volume of online scrutiny and criticism, the Games likely would not have survived.

June Focus:  Front Squat, Power Clean, Ring Dips & Chin Ups, 

Tue: 5xE3MOM – 1m Plank Buy-in, then: Amrap 16 DB Snatch & 12 Burp Box Jump Overs #35/50
Wed: 80/100c Air Bike, with Buy-in & EMOM: 3 Clusters #95/135. Time cap 15m. #95/135
Thu: Amrap 18m – 10 K2E, 15 Burpees, 20 KBs, 30 DUs
Fri: Turkish Get Up practice. Metcon: Amrap 12m – 500m Row, 12 DB FC Lunges, 100m FC #35/50
Sat: FT – 400m Run, then 5 rounds: 12 DB PP, 12DB FS, 400m Run. #35/50
Sun:  5RFT – 2 Rope Climbs, 12 PSnatches, 24 Situps #65/95


YouTube: THE ABSOLUTE BEST CROSSFIT SEMIFINAL PERFORMANCE – Please take 10 minutes and watch this incredible Polynesian Dance at the Torian Pro SemiFinal this weekend. You will not regret.

Movie: AIR – Courting A Legend – Amazon Prime – Matt Damon and Ben Affleck team up again for this incredible story of recruiting Michael Jordan to Nike and the eventual creation of the multi-billion dollar Air Jordan line. I had no idea how perilous this negotiation process was and how important it was to Nike. This is a well-told, exciting story about the inner-workings of athlete sponsorship and Nike (Converse & Addidas).

Social Media: Injury Rate In CrossFit (Comparison To Other Sports) – This is based upon an observational study (survey of 400+ Brazilian CrossFitters). “It turns out that injury rate per 1000 training hours (3.2) was not substantially different than in other comparable sports such as powerlifting and conventional strength training (2.6). In fact, street running has been reported to induce more than double the amount of injuries per 1000h of training.”  Check out the slides and data findings. It’s pretty interesting and very consistent with our 17 years of experience. 

Make it an awesome week!