The test to find the Fittest on Earth wrecked shop harder than a rock star trashing their bathroom and flooding the hotel.
Here I sit on a Wednesday morning, reflecting on another Games season. The CrossFit Games ended three days prior, and I still have a raging “Gamesover.” As the sport grows and the Games become ever larger, so does the recovery period. Of course, some of that is due to escalating obnoxious behavior on my part.
The Games were markedly different from last year, as is their custom. The test to find the Fittest on Earth wrecked shop harder than a rock star trashing their bathroom and flooding the hotel.
The Greatest of All Time
2013 saw Rich Froning win his third consecutive title. Does that make him the greatest of all time? Jason Khalipa gave us the show we were hoping for, fighting his way through the weekend like the clydesdale he is. 2010 champ Kristan Clever embodied the spirit of the Games, and Sam Briggs re-engineered herself as the fittest woman on the planet. Each of these stories is an epic tale in itself. Together, they made for the most exciting CrossFit Games yet.
For the first time, the Masters competition was held during the week preceding the (majority of) individual competition. The coverage was exceptional. We had time to focus on their stories, time to marvel at the feats of our forebears captured in stunning HD video, streamed to the world from so many camera angles it put Internet porn to shame, with commentary and analysis reminiscent of pro football.
More people came as fans of the CrossFit Games than participated in the first Open. While approximately 26,000 people were part of the first-ever Open, attendance at this year's Games totaled 50,000 over the course of the weekend. Far more CrossFitters than ever took over the StubHub Center from soccer to tennis stadium, all the parking lots and down to the track. The fittest crowd on Earth – surprise – got fitter and greater in number. Many PRs were shattered at the 2013 Games, including average inches of exposed, rock-hard butt cheek. A six-pack won’t set you apart at the CrossFit Games; if you want to stand out, you need at least an eight-pack.
Fit and feisty spectators had opportunities to test themselves in past Games Events down at the track, and a plethora of physical challenges throughout the Vendor Village. The fans got to hang out and party all over the campus in giant, air-conditioned beer gardens filled with TVs that would make Rupert Murdoch green with envy. It was an experience order of magnitude better than anything before.
The massive throng of awesome CrossFitters was treated to a race to the top on the men’s side, culminating in a three-year sweep by Rich Froning. On the women’s side, three fan favorites climbed the podium. Hack’s Pack repeating as Affiliate Cup champs rounded out the team competition.
Wow. That makes Disneyland look like a bike ride at the park.
But how do you define the greatest of all time? Is it Rich’s third consecutive win? Was it emotional favorites Sam Briggs, Lindsey Valenzuela and Valerie Voboril making the podium in a hotly contested women’s competition? What about Camille Croissant-Baguette potentially losing several thousand dollars for a missed chance at a first-place event finish in 2007 due to a slow-motion, “Fast-Times-At-Ridgemont-High”-esque PSR (premature shirt removal)? Could you make an argument for any of the athletes that have competed in six of the seven Games?
Wait, there have only been seven of these things? It’s been a scant four years since the Ranch. Just four years since we met Mikko Salo and fell in love with Iceland Annie’s smile in the heat and dust. Four years since Tommy Hackenbruck swash-buckled his way into our hearts with a sledgehammer.
Where does the time go?
Sunday night, I walked down a tunnel in a giant sports complex, beneath the stomping feet of thousands of screaming fans, and saw the beaming leader of back-to-back Affiliate Cup champs, Hack’s Pack, and toasted his bottle of champagne with my Dos Equis.
Well, that escalated quickly.
It’s not just one thing — it’s everything. When you put these elements together, it’s impossible for this year’s Games not to be the greatest of all time. A man became the first three-time champion in history; a driven woman rebuilt herself from the ground up and claimed the title of Fittest on Earth; a team repeated as champion for the first time; a former champion captured our hearts and was honored with the Spirit of the Games award; a crowd swelled like Pat Sherwood on cheat night. The coverage reached a level unimaginable a year ago. Hundreds and hundreds of staff and selfless volunteers flawlessly executed thousands of plans to make it all come together for the CrossFit community.
Yeah, this was the greatest Games of all time – until 2014.