Face Off: The Open Announcement Experience

March 19, 2013

Hilary Achauer

"Watching these athletes was like watching a panther race a cheetah. Really freaking cool, pretty outrageous and kinda sexy."

“Watching these athletes was like watching a panther race a cheetah. Really freaking cool, pretty outrageous and kinda sexy.”

Heidi Schnappauf is a stuntwoman and member of CrossFit South Brooklyn. She was one of about 350 people lucky enough to see Annie Thorisdottir and Lindsey Valenzuela compete head-to-head in 13.2, the second workout of the 2013 CrossFit Games Open.

This year, instead of previously recorded announcements, each of the five workouts of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open is announced live at an affiliate. Immediately following the announcement, two Games athletes go head to head in an event broadcast on the CrossFit Games site.

The first live Open announcement and workout was held at CrossFit Vitality in Concord, N.C., on March 6.

“We had about 800 people show up,” Steve Pinkerton, owner of CrossFit Vitality, said. “We had tents outside and big-screen TVs.”

Pinkerton said the experience was completely different from Regionals or the Games. Instead of many athletes competing in multiple workouts over a few days, this was two men facing off on one workout.

“It was amazing seeing these guys, who are on another level, compete,” says Josh Hoke, a member of CrossFit Vitality who attended the event. “Nobody knew what to expect.”

Michael Kulikowski, also a member of CrossFit Vitality, said watching Scott Panchik methodically tackle the burpees and snatches in 13.1 inspired him to pace himself when he did the workout later in the week.

“It made the Games much more personal to me,” he said.

In true CrossFit style the event was not just a workout — it was a party.

“These people love to party,” 66-year-old Kulikowski says. “It was fun seeing people dressed up, not in their workout clothes.”

Moving the event to Brooklyn for the announcement of 13.2 on March 13 meant the event was a bit smaller due to space restrictions, but no less impressive.

CrossFit South Brooklyn’s 4,500 square feet and 23-foot-high ceilings were turned over CrossFit athletes and fans who gathered to watch two of the most well-known women in CrossFit take on 13.2.

“People were out of their heads,” says David Osorio, owner of CrossFit South Brooklyn. “This was a very intimate experience, and it was also larger than life. Everyone was extremely excited to be so close to Annie (Thorisdottir, two-time Games winner).”

“It was thrilling to see two beautiful, strong women doing what we do every day, live in person. (It was) inspiring for everyone, but especially for the women in our community,” Ellie Myers, a member of CF South Brooklyn, says.

Schnappauf said she loved seeing hundreds of people eager for a chance to be a part of the event.

“The coolest thing about being there was the fact that these mythical, amazing athletes who seem to only exist in some sort of fairytale fitness world where they are all six feet tall and they don't speak to peons like me are in fact very much down to earth, normal people just performing the ordinary extraordinarily well.”

This week, the party rolls on to CrossFit Roots in Boulder, Colo., when Kristan Clever takes on Talayna Fortunato in Workout 13.3.

“We're insanely excited,” Nicole Christensen, owner of CrossFit Roots, says.

She says they were surprised to be asked to host, since Boulder is a small town, not typically known as a hotbed of CrossFit Games activity. The event, held in the 10,000-square-foot affiliate, is open to anyone who would like to come.

“You don’t need a ticket,” Christensen says. “The doors open at 4:30 p.m.”

After the workout, the party is moving onto the Marriott for an after party.

“Most of the people around here are never going to go watch the Games,” Christensen says. “We’re excited to be part of a true Games event in our home town.”