May 15, 2012
The Little Affiliate That Could: CrossFit Spokane Valley
By Becca Borawski

CrossFit Spokane Valley missed the Games by one sot in 2011. In 2012, the team is prepared to make another run at the big show.

Despite having only a little over one hundred members total, at the end of the CrossFit Games Open, CrossFit Spokane Valley is sitting proudly in 3rd place in the North West Region. Last year they finished 3rd in the Open, as well, only to finish in a heartbreaking 4th place at Regionals, leaving them one slot away from a ticket to the Games.

This year the strongest individual from Spokane Valley, Kevin Longmeier, placed 3rd as an individual in the Open. Longmeier, however, will be passing on his ticket to Regionals as he is already committed to his pastoral duties that weekend – officiating a wedding.

So what does CrossFit Spokane Valley think is different this year? How do they intend to get to the Games without their strongest man? And what does this little affiliate intend to do to get them on top of the Games mountain?

For starters, five out of the six team members competed last year, meaning the competition jitters are behind them and they entered this Games season a more focused, more experienced group of competitors. Secondly, last year team member Salem Giampietro competed only three weeks after giving birth to her second son. This year, she is on top of her game. And finally, three out of their six team members are former college-level athletes, and four of them are CrossFit coaches.

For affiliate owner and team leader Dan Staton, this year is about truly competing as a team and thinking through the approach to the workouts. “Last year’s finish taught us to train more as a team leading up to the Regionals, and the realization that CrossFit is also a thinking man’s sport; strategy plays a vital role,” Staton says.

To prepare for competition, Staton has his team train year round, but with a different focus at different times of the year. “GPP is a main focus throughout the summer, in the fall we work on raw strength, early winter we build in the faster strength movements (Olympic weightlifting), and as the Open approaches we invest more time on weaknesses and peaking our engine metabolically speaking,” says Staton.

Based on last year’s experience at Regionals, Staton also has his team taking a “worst case scenario” approach to their training.

“We learned to train worst-case scenarios and anticipate a very strict judge. We made mistakes in communication on the row/HSPU WOD and didn't practice several strategies; we just went with one. You have to have a couple of strategies executed before comp to learn about each other and the WODs. We had our strong man Jason Uberauga miss a 245-pound thruster due to a foot fault, which is below his max and cost us a few places. These are the main mistakes that we learned from.”

While Staton and his team are not looking forward to the Snatch Ladder at the Regional competition, they have a positive outlook. “We have relatively week snatches when compared to others,’ he says. “But we’re hoping to see some PRs at Regionals.”

As Spokane Valley readies for the North West Regional, they seem to have all the bases covered and be ready for any scenario. As Staton shared with us, the whole affiliate has rallied around the Open and Regional competition. With 36 of its just over one hundred member community competing in the Open, it has become an annual tradition. This year, Spokane Valley plans to extend that tradition to the Games itself.