April 30, 2014
CrossFit Games Update: April 29, 2014
By Megan Mitchell
Strict handstand push-ups and legless rope climbs will put athletes to the test on Saturday.

Individual Event 4 

21-15-9-6-3 reps for time of:
Strict handstand push-ups
Front squats, 195 / 125 lb.

Over the last four years, kipping handstand push-ups have grown in popularity in boxes across the globe and have made regular appearances in CrossFit competitions.

Yet it wasn’t always that way. In the early years, strict handstand push-ups were the default. Handstand push-ups first appeared at the 2009 CrossFit Games in an eight-minute AMRAP of four handstand push-ups (on parallettes, no kipping allowed), eight kettlebell swings (32/24 kg.), and 12 GHD sit-ups. Kipping handstand push-ups didn't enter the CrossFit Games until 2010.

The strict handstand push-up requirement in Event 4 may come as an unpleasant surprise to athletes who started CrossFit within the last four years when kipping reigned.

While some competitors will fail and others will slow, a few will speed ahead.

Let’s not forget the three fastest times on Diane at the 2012 Regionals were set by Dan Bailey (1:35), Chris Spealler (1:52), and Neal Maddox (1:58) who all chose to do the handstand push-ups strict, while the third- through fifth-ranked men—Kevin Simmons (1:58), Jason Khalipa (2:00), and Kyle Kasperbauer (2:00)—kipped.

There wasn’t as tidy of a split on the women’s side, however. Annie Thorisdottir kipped the handstand push-ups, and Kristan Clever went strict, but they both finished in 1:54 (the world’s fastest judged Diane time).

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet kipped her handstand push-ups to set the next best time at 2:04, edging out Michele Letendre and Annie Sakamoto—who both chose to go strict—by just one second.

1T. Annie Thorisdottir (1:54, kipping) 
1T. Kristan Clever (1:54, strict)
3. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (2:04, kipping)
4T. Michele Letendre (2:05, strict)
4T. Annie Sakamoto (2:05, strict)

This triplet has a classic rep scheme, 21-15-9, but with a few more reps tacked on (6-3).

The nine extra reps shouldn’t be overlooked. We’ve seen fatigued athletes lose precious time on a few remaining handstand push-ups.
Two years ago, Jason Khalipa led the CrossFit Games MedBall/HSPU event until the final handstand push-up. 

He completed six of the seven deficit handstand push-ups in the final round before failing. His massive triceps quivered as they tried to move his 200-lb. frame, but they didn’t bring him to full lockout. He failed another five times. 

“When handstand push-ups go away, they don’t come back very fast,” commentator Josh Everett said while covering the event. “They go away and stay away.”

Two minutes and 10 seconds later, Khalipa got his last rep. He went from being on track for an event win, to 10th place. (Watch the event here.)

After each bout with the strict handstand push-ups, the competitors will have to contend with front squats and bar-facing burpees for a total of 54 reps of each movement.

Individual Event 5

10 rounds for time of:
1 legless 14-foot rope climb ascent
200-foot sprint

Legless rope climbs have a history of dismantling competitors.

Many early CrossFit athletes learned about legless rope climbs by clicking the Rope Climb Demo on the Exercises and Demos page on CrossFit.com. In the seven year old video, Annie Sakamoto showed rope climb variations including a legless ascent.

Two years later, on March 14, 2009, CrossFit.com posted a WOD that called for legless rope climbs. While on lunch break from a Level 1 Seminar at CrossFit San Diego, Dave Castro, Dutch Lowy, and Jimi Letchford started into the five rounds of nine 155-lb. hang squat cleans, three 15-foot legless rope climbs (watch here). Two rounds in, Castro was the only man continuing to climb legless.

Another four years would pass before legless rope climbs would appear in CrossFit Games programming. Last July, the competitors faced a total of 10 15-foot legless rope climbs and 72 (95/65-lb.) thrusters in the event appropriately named “Legless.”

Heat after heat, competitors literally fell from the lead. Alessandra Pichelli and Christy (Phillips) Adkins overtook Sam Briggs after Briggs missed the top of the rope climb on three consecutive attempts.

Pichelli and Adkins were the only two women to complete all 10 rope climbs and 72 thrusters within the 10-minute time cap.

Pichelli secured the win with the help of a big kip.

“I knew that as long as I could keep my arms from blowing up, then I’d be able to finish the last rep,” Pichelli said after the event. “So my teammates really helped me—and my coaches—with this kipping technique, and I feel like it really paid off.”

The men fared better than the women, with the majority finishing within the time cap.

In the first heat, Lucas Parker led until the very last climb. Midway up the rope, he lost his grip and fell. That fall allowed Gary Helmick to take the heat victory in 6:08.1. Two heats later, Josh Bridges finished in 6:07.3 to take the event win. 

Southern California has the first and third-ranked men on Legless (Josh Bridges and Kenny Leverich), and will be a regional to watch on Saturday, May 24.

Note: Because of the design of the Rogue Infinity Rig that will be used at the 2014 Regionals, Event 5 will have 14-foot rope climbs, not 15-foot climbs as in Legless.