October 25, 2013
Jackies are Wild
By CrossFit
Armchair coaches invited to select ideal pairings with mixed-pairs Jackie at CrossFit Invitational.
Armchair coaches invited to select ideal pairings with mixed-pairs Jackie at CrossFit Invitational.

Armchair coaches invited to select ideal pairings with mixed-pairs Jackie at CrossFit Invitational.

The chess match begins in Berlin.

With as much as a 9-point lead up for grabs after the first event, CrossFit Invitational coaches are currently trying to figure out how to open the competition, which starts with a mixed-pairs Jackie. All 12 athletes will compete, and all will be ranked against each other, meaning six pairs will vie for a first-place prize of 6 points. The second-place team will earn 5 points, and so on, with last-place team earning 1 point.

As a repeat of a Regional Event, Jackie has provided a host of data, allowing armchair coaches to dig in and try to outguess coaches Mads Jacobsen (World) and Matt Chan (USA).

Of course, anything is possible once the clock starts, and a few no-reps or a slip off the pull-up bar can make all existing data completely irrelevant. Still, the coaches will be working off the same numbers we are, unless their athletes personally reveal new PRs or reasons for slower-than-expected Jackie times at Regionals.

But let's ignore that and the Minnesota Vikings quarterback controversy. Pull out your clipboard, get comfortable in your recliner, crunch some CrossFit numbers and try to match wits with Chan and Jacobsen.

Working the Stats

Referencing Jackie times from Regionals, you’re able to get an idea of which pair combinations will produce which times. The best Regional team time was 12:06 by CrossFit Fort Vancouver, and you would expect that to fall given the large number of podium finishers in the mix in Berlin.

If, for the Invitational competitors, you take their straight up Regional times as individuals and assume transition times will be more or less equal for all teams, you can simply add Regional times together—assuming those times have not changed one way or the other since they were logged.

Team USA
Jason Khalipa – 5:04 (event record)
Rich Froning – 5:09
Ben Smith – 5:17
Talayna Fortunato – 6:09
Val Voboril 6:16
Lindsey Valenzuela – 6:23

Team World
Albert-Dominic Larouche (ADL) – 5:16
Chad Mackay – 5:24
Frederik Aegidius – 5:43
Sam Briggs – 6:05
Kara Webb – 6:24
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (CLB) – 6:28

The USA males boast combined times 53 seconds faster than the World males, but the females are much more closely grouped: Team USA is only nine seconds faster as a group than Team World. Still, that gives Team USA almost a total group time almost a minute faster than Team World — which you’d expect given the five Games podium finishers on Team USA.

Armchair coaches will note the following:

1. Aegidius’ time creates an issue as it’s well outside the norm for a Games-level male. If the time has not improved since Regionals or is a true representation of Aegidius’ abilities on the workout, only a pairing with Briggs will produce a time under 12 minutes. Doing so would create an ADL-Webb pairing of 11:40 for World’s fastest remaining combination — yet the time is only equal to the USA’s slowest, a Smith-Valenzuela pairing of 11:40. This effectively removes Aegidius-Briggs combinations from consideration for Team World, and if you accept that his time will create a probable last-place finish for him and any partner, you might as well write off the slowest women’s time as well: Leblanc-Bazinet’s 6:28. Pair them up, expect about 12:11 and assign 1 point.

2. The remaining options involve ADL-Briggs (11:21 and World’s fastest combo), ADL-Webb (11:40), Mackay-Briggs (11:29), and Mackay-Webb (11:48).

3. A Mackay-Briggs pairing creates a solid 11:29 but also creates a situation where the USA can send out the following: Froning-Voboril (11:25), Smith-Fortunato (11:26) and Khalipa-Valenzuela (11:27). You’ll note that all these times are faster than a predicted 11:29 from Mackay-Briggs, which would mean the USA would sweep the top three spots to take a commanding 15-6 lead. A 9-point lead is the best possible result for either team after Event 1.

4. A balanced attack from the USA, however, opens up the possibility of an ADL-Briggs 11:21 taking first overall, with the USA taking second to fourth. That would result in 12 points for the USA and 9 points for the World — a very good result for the Europe/Canada/Australia squad given the disparity in Jackie times.

5. If you accept that an ADL-Briggs pairing would give the fastest World squad a 4-second cushion — an eternity in Jackie times — over three balanced USA squads, you’d expect the USA to nail down the top spots and take the best-case World scenario out of play completely. They could do that by pairing Froning-Fortunato (11:18) and Khalipa-Voboril (11:20) to give them a legitimate shot at taking first and second, leaving ADL-Briggs to third. The remaining Smith-Valenzuela pairing (11:40) is still good enough to handily beat Mackay-Webb (11:48) and Aegidius-CLB (12:11). The score created in this situation would be 14-7 USA, which is but 2 points less than the best possible USA outcome and contains none of the risk.

6. What seems clear is that Team USA has more options but will need to choose wisely to get the best result. Team World can still stay close if its top pairing does very well. Should ADL-Briggs improved projected times and take second, a score of 13-8 is likely, and if Mackay-Webb can improve their projected time to take fourth, things become very interesting indeed with a score of 12-9.

7. If Aegidius can drop his time into the 5:24 range — which is not improbable given his abilities — things get more interesting. If he can drop it under 5:20, or if any of his teammates can reduce their times significantly, then we’ve got a real game on our hands.

Of course, all this gets blown to shit if the Regional times don’t hold up or something unexpected happens.

But never mind that.

At present, neither squad is particularly willing to share any strategy before the event, but you can post your own strategy to comments.

The competition will take place at 7 p.m. CEST (10 a.m. PT) on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. The competition will be broadcast live on Eurosport, and fans will also be able to watch the event live at Games.CrossFit.com.