April 4, 2012
Thoughts on the Open
By Russ Greene
Along with the increase in numbers, the level of competition is higher than ever.
Along with the increase in numbers, the level of competition is higher than ever.

In 2011, the CrossFit Games Open debuted. More than 26,000 athletes signed up to compete in the first event of its kind – a worldwide, virtual test in the Sport of Fitness. As impressive as last year’s participation and performances were, this year has made those memories pale in comparison.

In 2012, 69,240 people signed up to compete in the Open. Along with the increase in numbers, the level of competition is higher than ever.

Top Performers
Rich Froning won the male competition by a wide margin – more than 100 points. Fans were left wondering if anyone can stop this guy. Ben Smith, who finished 3rd at the 2011 Games and some picked as a possible challenger, finished 781 points behind Froning in 24th place.

Josh Bridges, who finished 2nd at both the 2011 Open and Games, could not compete in the Open due to his military service obligations. Nonetheless, Bridges racked up some impressive unofficial performances, including 174 reps on 12.5. Not only was that five more than he did in 2011, but it was 11 more reps than any other athlete completed.

The women’s competition is a closer race. Kristan Clever won three of five workouts and amassed just 26 points. Close behind her, however, was Julie Foucher. Medical school hasn’t slowed her down; she finished in the top 15 on all five workouts and finished with only 37 points.

Annie Thorisdottir, 2011’s victor, could not quite keep up with Foucher and Clever in the Open. Iceland Annie won 12.2’s snatch workout, but 12.1’s burpees and 12.4’s muscle-ups held her back in 3rd place overall. It’s still too early to tell how Thorisdottir will fare later in the season, however.

Past Champs Still Kicking Ass
Graham Holmberg, 2010 champion, got off to a slow start in the last year’s Open and finished 37th in the world. At the 2011 Games, though, Holmberg silenced any doubters with a 4th place finish. This year, Holmberg finished 108th worldwide in the Open. He's coming off of knee surgery and has set some recent strength PRs including a 525-pound deadlift and 400-pound high bar squat. Will he make another comebacks in the 2012 season?

Old school Games fans will remember 2008 champs Caity Matter Henniger and 2009 Champ Tanya Wagner. They are both still kicking ass in CrossFit. Henniger finished the Open in 32nd in the Central East and Wagner finished 14th in Mid Atlantic. 

Jason Khalipa’s, the 2008 champ, surrounded himself with some of the world’s best training partners – including Neal Maddox and Pat Barber. The strategy has worked well for Khalipa so far; he finished the Open in 10th worldwide. 

​You Can't Count on Regionals
Rob Orlando, Mike Giardina, and Josh Everett all did better on 12.5 than they did on the same workout in 2011. Giardina added 4 reps, Orlando added 3, and Everett added 7.

Rob Orlando finished the Open in 4th in the North East last year. This year, he finished the Open 56th in the North East, just barely qualifying for Regionals.

Similarly, Giardina is a three-time Games athlete who competed in the Games as an individual as recently as 2010. Giardina finished 92nd in the South East this year and won't make Regionals.

Three-time Games athlete Josh Everett, famous for his King Kong and Isabel performances, is still competing in CrossFit. He finished 95th in SoCal this year and didn't make Regionals either.

The greats of years past are still getting fitter, but the competition to find the “Fittest on Earth” is accelerating at an even faster pace. Even some of the biggest legends in CrossFit can’t count on making it to Regionals anymore.

A level of fitness that was once world class is now the prerequisite to qualify for Regionals.