The CrossFit Games is an athletic competition sponsored by Crossfit Inc. and Reebok. The competition has been held every summer since 2007. Athletes at the Games compete in workouts that they learn about hours or days beforehand, consisting mostly of an assortment of standard aerobic, weightlifting, and gymnastics movements, as well as some additional surprise elements that are not part of the typical CrossFit regimen such as obstacle courses, ocean swimming, softball throwing, or ascending a pegboard. The CrossFit Games stylizes their individual winners as the "Fittest on Earth".
In 2007, the first annual CrossFit Games were contested in Aromas, California, on a small ranch owned by the family of Games director Dave Castro. For the initial Games in 2007 and 2008, participation was open to anyone who made it to Aromas. The Games would also award an Affiliate Cup to the group from one CrossFit gym that had the best combined individual standings. In 2009, competitors had to qualify after over a hundred athletes had shown up in 2008. The athletes earned an invitation through either placing high enough in the previous year or through placing in the top worldwide in a set of qualifying events called Regionals hosted at a few CrossFit gyms. The CrossFit Games also added a separate set of team-based events for the Affiliate Cup, marking the first use of a designated Team Division, with teams of four (two men and two women).
Interest and participation in the event continued to grow, and in 2010, the qualification was adjusted to include hosting multiple Sectionals, a series of events open to all athletes in order to qualify for the one of the 17 Regionals. The 17 regions had Canada and the United States divided into 12 regions, with the remaining regions roughly corresponding the five other populated continents. The attendance at the Games also outgrew the ranch in Aromas and moved the Home Depot Center (later called the StubHub Center) in Carson, California. The Games also expanded the Team Division to groups of six athletes and added a Masters Division for individual men and women 55-years-old and up.
In 2011, the open participation Sectionals were replaced by an online qualification called the Open. In 2011, 26,000 athletes signed up to compete in the Open. In 2012–2018, participation was 69,000, 138,000, 209,000, 273,000, 324,307, 380,000, and 415,000 respectively.
In 2015, the qualification format changed from 17 regional events to eight. Each "super-regional" event included qualifiers from two or three of the previously defined regions, totaling 40 or 50 athletes at each event.
Following seven years in Carson, the Games moved to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2017. The next year, the qualifying Regionals were once again realigned due to increased competitiveness and popularity outside of Canada and the US. In 2018, there were nine Regionals hosted among 18 redefined regions with Europe increasing to three regions, Central America split from South America, while eliminating the Northern and Southern California regions.
Sponsorship and prize money
Participation and sponsorship have grown rapidly since the inception of the Games. The prize money awarded to each first-place male and female increased from $500 at the inaugural Games to $275,000 from 2013 to 2016. The largest jump in prize money came from the first Games sponsored by Reebok in 2011 when first place went from $25,000 in 2010 to $250,000 in 2011. The total prize payout in 2016 was $2,200,000.
Stages of qualification
The CrossFit Games season comprises three stages of competition: the Open, Regionals, and the Games themselves.
The Open, introduced in 2011 and so called because participation is open to anyone, is held over five weeks in February–March; a new workout is released on each Thursday night (Pacific Time) and competitors complete the workout and submit their scores online by Monday evening, with either a video or validation by a CrossFit affiliate. Since 2013, Open workout announcements have been broadcast live, and featured two or more past CrossFit Games athletes competing head-to-head immediately following the workout description.
Each Open competitor is categorized into one of 18 regions according to primary training location; North America is divided into 11 regions, Europe into three regions and the remaining regions roughly corresponding the five other populated continents After all Open workouts, the overall performance of competitors within each region is ranked, and the top few athletes (currently between 10 and 30 depending on the region) advance to the next stage: Regionals. Each Regional competition is made up of the top athletes from two of the 18 defined regions. Regional events last three days and are held two or three per week over three consecutive weekends in late (boreal) spring; the workouts are the same for all regional events.
The top athletes from each regional event advance to the CrossFit Games, which are held over three days in July or August. The men's and women's events each consist of 40 competitors vying for 3 podium positions and approximately $750,000 in total prize money (the overall prize purse of $2.2 million, as of 2016, includes payouts to other divisions).
The marquee events at the CrossFit Games are the men's and women's individual competitions. The first place prize for each currently stands at $285,000.
Teams have consisted of three men and three women, who must all primarily train at the same facility. Starting in the 2018 games, each team will have four members, two men and two women. Teams are subject to a similar qualification process as the individuals.
Masters and Teens
The Games include age-based divisions for younger and older competitors. Masters divisions were introduced at the 2010 Games. There are currently six divisions each for women and men: 35–39, 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, and 60+. Divisions for teenagers were introduced in 2015: the age ranges are 14–15 and 16–17, for both boys and girls. Rather than regional events, masters and teen athletes qualify for the games by a second online competition following the Open. The top 200 athletes in each division worldwide are invited to compete in this qualifier, of which the top 20 advance to the Games. Prior to the introduction of these secondary online qualifiers, masters and teens competitors qualified for the Games directly from the Open.
Due to CrossFit's official partnership with Reebok, competitors at the 2015 Games were banned from wearing Nike footwear. Nike arranged for several trucks to be parked near the main entrance to the arena, which served as mobile billboards with the slogan "Don't ban our shoe, beat our shoe". The partnership also prohibits Nike from labeling its Metcon shoes as intended for CrossFit - the brand uses the term "high intensity training" instead.
CrossFit's decision to award winners of the 2016 Games with handguns resulted in widespread criticism from members and sponsors. Resulting protests forced the temporary closure of two CrossFit locations in New York City.
In 2011, ESPN began to broadcast the CrossFit Games, with live coverage streamed through ESPN3, and some television coverage on ESPN2. As the event grew, ESPN expanded its television coverage; in 2014, the network entered into a multi-year deal to continue broadcasting the CrossFit Games, and coverage expanded to nine-and-a-half hours on ESPN and ESPN2 by 2015. In 2017, the event began a new broadcast arrangement with CBS Sports, with television coverage on CBS Sports Network, and a total of 40 hours of digital streaming coverage. CrossFit also streamed coverage through Facebook and their website.
Champions by year and category
Individual and Team Champions
|Year||Individual Men||Individual Women||Team|
|2007||James Fitzgerald||Jolie Gentry||CrossFit Santa Cruz|
|2008||Jason Khalipa||Caity Matter||CrossFit Oakland|
|2009||Mikko Salo||Tanya Wagner||Northwest CrossFit|
|2010||Graham Holmberg||Kristan Clever||CrossFit Fort Vancouver|
|2011||Rich Froning Jr.||Annie Thorisdottir||CrossFit New England|
|2012||Rich Froning Jr.||Annie Thorisdottir||Hack's Pack UTE|
|2013||Rich Froning Jr.||Samantha Briggs||Hack's Pack UTE|
|2014||Rich Froning Jr.||Camille Leblanc-Bazinet||CrossFit Invictus|
|2015||Ben Smith||Katrín Tanja Davíðsdóttir||CrossFit Mayhem Freedom|
|2016||Mathew Fraser||Katrín Tanja Davíðsdóttir||CrossFit Mayhem Freedom|
|2017||Mathew Fraser||Tia-Clair Toomey||Wasatch CrossFit|
Masters Men's Champions
|2011||—||Scott DeTore||Gord MacKinnon||Steve Anderson||Greg Walker|
|2012||—||Gene LaMonica||Gord MacKinnon||Tim Anderson||Scott Olson|
|2013||—||Michael Moseley||Ron Ortiz||Craig Howard||Hilmar Hardarson||Scott Olson|
|2014||—||Shawn Ramirez||Jerry Hill||Will Powell||Steve Hamming||Scott Olson|
|2015||—||Shawn Ramirez||Matthew Swift||Joe Ames||Will Powell||Steve Pollini|
|2016||—||Shawn Ramirez||Ron Mathews||Ron Ortiz||Will Powell||David Hippensteel|
|2017||Kyle Kasperbauer||Shawn Ramirez||Robert Davis||Kevin Koester||Shannon Aiken||David Hippensteel|
Masters Women's Champions
|2011||—||Susan Habbe||Mary Beth Litsheim||Shelley Noyce||Betsy Finley|
|2012||—||Lisa Mikkelsen||Susan Habbe||Marnel King||Mary Schwing|
|2013||—||Amanda Allen||Lisa Mikkelsen||Colleen Fahey||Gabriele Schlicht||Sharon Lapkoff|
|2014||—||Amanda Allen||Kim Holway||Mary Beth Litsheim||Susan Clarke||Karen Wattier|
|2015||—||Janet Black||Kylie Massi||Cindy Kelley||Susan Clarke||Rosalie Glenn|
|2016||—||Helen Harding||Cheryl Brost||Shellie Edington||Mary Beth Prodromides||Shaun Havard|
|2017||Stephanie Roy||Helen Harding||Cheryl Brost||Marion Valkenburg[a]||Susan Clarke||Patty Failla|
|Year||14–15 Boys||14–15 Girls||16–17 Boys||16–17 Girls|
|2015||Angelo Dicicco||Sydney Sullivan||Nicholas Paladino||Isabella Vallejo|
|2016||Vincent Ramirez||Kaela Stephano||Nicholas Paladino||Allison Weiss|
|2017||Dallin Pepper||Chloe Smith||Angelo Dicicco||Kaela Stephano|
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