Failed Attempt: The CrossFit Liftoff Was Just CrossFit

I was excited about a CFHQ event in a unique area of strength and skill. Turns out, it was just another CrossFit competition.

Rich Froning and Sam Briggs won the CrossFit Liftoff. Zzzzzz.

The Games website described the event as:

“[A]n online, three-event competition consisting of different weight classes allowing athletes to compare their lifts with those of similar size around the world.”

Initially, I was excited that a competition sponsored by CFHQ might veer into a unique area of strength and skill and enable some fringe athletes to have a shot at prize money and recognition. Even the introduction of weight classes was a promising new addition.

Turns out, it was just another CrossFit competition. With the Games, the Team Series, the Invitational, and now the Liftoff, CrossFit is doing nothing new. They are just reinventing their own wheel. The CrossFit Games summary article broke the event down like this:

“Even a killer snatch and clean and jerk could not make up for a very low score on the AMRAP, and consequently the CrossFit athletes fared better in the overall total which combined snatch weight, clean and jerk weight, and workout reps.”

No kidding. CrossFit athletes are good at CrossFit. So the Liftoff gave us nothing new. It gave us Froning and Briggs. That’s like watching the Emmy Awards in the 1990s. You knew Kelsey Grammer was going to win Best Actor for Frasier, so what was the point of watching?

CrossFit Comps Don’t Have to Be CrossFit

What if CrossFit, Inc. held a competition that wasn’t simply CrossFit? After all, as an entity, they already have branches of specialty certification – powerlifting, weightlifting, and gymnastics, to name a few. So what might happen if their competition menu branched out to include true tests of those specific domains?

“Well, it wouldn’t be CrossFit then,” you say. Perhaps, but does that matter anymore? CrossFit, as an ever-growing monolith of health and fitness, can afford to sponsor competitions that are forks in their road. In fact, the fact that CrossFit claims to be the rogue renegades of fitness demands that they push the envelope in terms of competitive offerings.

Lauren Fisher finished seventh overall in the Liftoff, despite placing only 36th in the weightlifting total.

Imagine, if you would, that CrossFit actually had a weightlifting competition. Make it “The 2016 CrossFit Weightlifting Nationals.” Powered by CrossFit, sponsored by Rogue. Singlets required. Not just an online competition, but a fully scoped, national event with qualifiers and rules, judges, and lights? And, God forbid, kilos? Like the Open, you would register and submit your best of three lifts in the snatch and clean and jerk via video. From there, perhaps the top twenty finishers in each weight division would qualify for the national competition. The competition itself would be run just like a USA Weightlifting event – three judges, white and red lights, no press outs, no elbow-to-knee contact, no horrible recovery from the knees.

Look, for example, at the women’s 131-140lb/58kg-63kg weight class at the Liftoff. Keep in mind that the scores were simple: total weight lifted plus total reps on the metcon. Sarabeth Phillips snatched 195lb/88kg (second place), clean and jerked 245lb/111kg (first place), and had a total of 440lb/200kg. The overall winner of that weight class, Emily Bridgers, snatched 180lb/82kg and clean and jerked 215lb/98kg.

So Phillips outlifted Bridgers by 45lb/20kg. Phillips outlifted the third place finisher, Maddy Myers, by about 12lb, or 5kg. Both Phillips and Meyers are widely known in the CrossFit community as excellent weightlifters, and their snatch and clean and jerk results reflected this. But the metcon made what might have been a really interesting weightlifting competition into a rather run-of-the-mill CrossFit competition.

Time for CrossFit to Leave Its Comfort Zone

Frankly, with the Team Series, the Liftoff, and now the CrossFit Invitational (fancy that, Froning’s team wins again), it’s all becoming boring. We’ve been watching the same damn people win these events for years. So why include the Liftoff if it’s nothing more than a mid-season CrossFit competition?

Shake it up, CrossFit. Have a national bodyweight competition that features three workouts specifically designed to highlight gymnastics movements, such as strict bar muscle ups, backward roll-to-support, back tucks, and handstand walks. Then have a true weightlifting competition. Give us Marco Coppolla and Sarah Robles instead of Froning and Briggs. Find a new and creative way to engage your extended athletic community.

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Photos courtesy of CrossFit.

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