CrossFit Power Rankings: Futile and Fun

Once the Bulls lost to Miami in the Conference Finals, I turned my full sports-related attention to the CrossFit games.  For the last two months, I’ve watched every Competition-related video put out by the mainsite, Games site or CrossFit Journal. During the Regional competitions, I un-followed all non-Regional related tweets, making Twitter my exclusive CF newsfeed.   I even tried getting one of my friends familiar with the athletes so that we could talk CrossFit like we would the NBA or NFL.  I can’t wait to see what happens at the Home Depot Center this weekend!

During the Open Competition, someone started posting CrossFit Power Rankings.  The writer never explained the methodology, but I was intrigued, and was looking forward to seeing the projections after Regionals.  Unfortunately, the site hasn’t been updated since early May.  I did find this site with another set of Power Rankings, but no explanations as to why certain athletes ranked where.  Plus, he lists athletes who didn’t even qualify for the Games.

So on one of my days off a few weeks ago, I took some time and crunched all the Regional numbers to see how the top male competitors stacked up.  I went back and looked at past Games trends and performances.  I made a “power rankings” list and have changed the top ten at least ten times.

My conclusion?  Projecting the top male athletes is an exercise in futility (the females are a little easier because the top two are so heavily favored).  But the top guys are so good that anyone of them could win it, depending on the workouts and who happens to be breathing fire that day.  I shelved the list, but decided on a whim to write it up today.

So feel free to laugh at me in a week.  But for now, here is one fan’s amateur, unscientific projection of the top males for the CrossFit Games.

Dark Horses: Aja Barto, Gabe Subry, Jesse Disch

15. Daniel Tyminski – Has enough athleticism and craziness to make things really interesting.

14. Patrick Burke – A guy who doesn’t get the attention he deserves.  He was good enough to finish 7th last year.  Don’t expect him to finish too far from that again.

13. Pat Barber – There is something different about him this year; watching him compete in Tahoe at the Again Faster throwdown gave me brand new respect for him.

12. Tommy Hackenbruck – I have tons of respect for him as a competitor.  Second in 2009, 9th in 2010?  That is consistency.  I actually think it will be hard to keep him out of the top 10, so this is the farthest out I’ll put him.

11. Tuomas Vainio – I think he will be a big surprise this year.  It’s his first year on the big stage, though, so next year will really be the year to watch him.

10.  Matt Chan – Why the drop for Matt Chan (from 4th to 10th)?  I’m not sure.  Maybe because I haven’t seen as much from him in recent months.  But he has 95% of Rob Orlando’s power and 95% of Spealler’s engine.  That’s a formidable combination.

9. Jason Khalipa – Jason seems like he’s learned to pace himself this year, which is just scary.  No one has more heart than this guy, and it would surprise me if he finished outside the top 10 for the second year in a row.

8. Joshua Bridges –  Some of his performances are out of this world, like the 100s WOD at Regionals or Workout 6 of the Open.  I have to agree with others that he might be a little too small, like Spealler, but without Speal’s technical proficiency.

7. Austin Malleolo – I hate putting Austin this low.  Since he finished 6th last year, odds are that he would improve on that.  He had the 5th overall performance at Regionals, though, and I’m not sure I can displace any of the guys above him.

6. Chris Spealler – If the programming is even (like last year), there’s no way that he finishes outside the top 10.  Lifting heavy is his (relative) weakness, but pound for pound he’s the best CrossFitter ever.

5. Graham Holmberg – I love Graham as a competitor and think that he is totally legit.  But it’s just so hard to repeat at this level.  Plus, Khalipa finished in 5th in 2009 and Mikko finished in 5th in 2010.  That’s the reason Graham is here.

4. Ben Smith – Ben had the second overall performance at Regionals, and his numbers are just crazy.  He’s still so young though – I think he still lacks the mental edge that some of the other guys have.

3. Mikko Salo – How can you not love Mikko Salo?  He was a beast in 2009 and then got tripped up by some of the more technical movements in 2010.  If he’s been working on them (and he has) he’ll be hard to beat.

2. Rich Froning, Jr. – Everyone else has him as the favorite this year.  I think he is redefining the limits of work capacity right now.  I just have a feeling that something will trip him up again to keep him from the top spot.  I would love to see him win though.

1. Dan Bailey – He is crushing everything so much right now (the top overall Open AND Regional performance), I don’t see how he doesn’t at least make the podium, if not take the whole thing.

There it is!  I’m excited to see how it all shakes out! Let me know your thoughts!

Link to 2011 Competitors Stats

Link to 2010 CrossFit Games Results

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9 thoughts on “CrossFit Power Rankings: Futile and Fun

  1. Question on how you ranked. Came up with something similar. I re-ranked all the regional finishes and came up with a list, did you do something similar? Of course mine I wasn’t able to factor in the top 5 from last year. I like the idea you have about the 5th place finisher, Graham. I never really thought about it like that before. It’s going to be awesome to watch!

    • Yeah, I put all the regionals in a spreadsheet and used it to assign rankings. So that gave me 1. Bailey 2. Smith 3. Bridges etc. But it’s really an artificial indicator since most of the guys who won the event could have gone faster if competing against stronger competitors. For example, imagine Spealler vs. Bridges on the 100s workout. Plus weather changed things up: rain in NorCal, sweltering heat in the South Central. I tried to take past performance and relative size into consideration, and that’s how I ended up with the rankings I had. But then I realized that my predictions were almost identical to last year’s standings, and so I mixed it up a little. The truth is any of those guys could win the whole thing.

      • Here’s my new top 5, based on what has been released:
        5. Rich Froning Jr. – I think that Holmberg and Bailey are specialists in CF, and the unexpectedness of the announced WODs will hurt them. Froning is also a specialist, but as evidenced by the sandbag carry, he does better with the real-world type of thing.
        4. Chris Spealler – Will win the L-sit and handstand walk (WOD 2), top 5 in WOD 1.
        3. Josh Bridges – Will go 1 or 2 in the first WOD.
        2. Ben Smith – Swam and played baseball in high school.
        1. Mikko Salo – I think the 1st and 5th workouts favor his strengths big time.

        This will be epic!

    • Chan was first out of the water in wod 1 (played water polo in college), but Bridges ran away with the event. Spealler 2nd, Dan bailey 4. Mikko and Graham were way back. What a great first event!

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