Top 5 Surprises Of The 2011 CrossFit Games

So far we’ve seen: Khalipa swipe the 2008 games out from under Josh Everett’s nose in the dying seconds, a humble, soft-spoken, newcomer named Mikko Salo steal the hearts of CrossFitters everywhere in 2009, and a rope climb mean the difference between 1st and 2nd in 2010. Here are my top 5 surprises, in no particular order, of the 2011 CrossFit Games.

1.  Annie Sakamoto

It’s always amazing when you see a true CrossFit OG perform well.  Annie finished in 9th place overall in her very first Games competition.  Of the ten events, she only placed outside the top ten four times.  The magnitude of her accomplishments are amplified by the fact she stands five feet tall and weighs only 116 pounds.  In the “Rope Climb, Clean” and “Dog-sled” workouts, WODs appearing to favor the stronger athletes, she finished 18th and 5th respectively.  Pretty amazing stuff.  As both a CrossFit trainer and a “smaller” athlete, I took extra special pride in watching her near perfect technique.  Given her size, she needed to be flawless in her execution in order to hang with the Annie Thorisdottir’s and Rebecca Voigt’s of the world.  If I recall correctly, she never missed a Clean and Jerk or needed to stop on the sled pushes.  She was an incredible inspiration all weekend long.  For those who began our CrossFit adventure by watching old-school videos of her, it was an awesome thing to see.

2.  Variety

One of CrossFit’s montra’s is “constant variation”.  At some point though you would think it’d be difficult to keep coming up with something fresh and new for an event as big as the Games.  Somehow they managed to “wow” us again.  Big props to the “powers-that-be” for keeping the athletes, as well as the spectators, on their toes.  The beach wod, as well as the skill workouts were nice additions.  We all knew at some point swimming had to be thrown into the mix.  Anyone whose ever swam in their life knows fews things come close to matching its intensity.  The monkey bars…well, those were just bad ass.  I certainly didn’t see that one coming.  Looking down onto the tennis court and gazing upon the monstrosity that was the monkey bar set-up reminded me why I love CrossFit so much.

3. Pat Barber

The “manimal” had a great overall peformance at this year’s Games, finishing in 8th.  However, the moment in particular that get’s Barber onto this list was the incredible finish to the last event that saw him take first after going absolutely berserk on the final sled pull.  He began the pull fairly slowly (and rightly so, did you see the craziness that was the last event???), falling slightly behind Khalipa and Ben Smith.  Re-energized out of no where though, about half way through, he truly lived up to his nick name and pulled the sled the final 50 feet or so without stopping.  Truly amazing.  Just to add a little perspective, absolute monsters like Khalippa, Morrison, and Froning, all guys who out-weigh and out-lift Barber, struggled by comparison.  The feat was so epic in fact that no one in the stadium was left sitting.  If you didn’t get chills watching that, you were probably A) new to CrossFit, or B) in the bathroom. If you get a chance check out his Official Site and follow him on facbeook.

4. Mikko and Orlando

Miko Salo and Rob Orlando, two of CrossFit’s most popular athletes, were forced to leave the competition through injury.  We can sit here and argue all day about whether or not the ocean swim was to blame, but the fact of the matter is every spectator was robbed of seeing two studs (Salo was a favorite to win the competition) perform.  That’s not good for anyone.  Now we’ll have to wait until next year to satisfy our Miko fixes.  For CrossFit junkies like myself, that task may prove rather difficult.  Is there anyone who saw this promo here and didn’t get chills???

5. ESPN

I’ll admit it, some mornings I just couldn’t get up in time to make it to Carson to see the day’s first event. Thankfully though, this year’s events were streamed live on ESPN 3.  It proved a huge lifesaver for us non-morning people and definitely paved the way for an even bigger CrossFit/ESPN partnership. If you haven’t heard, the Games are being televised on ESPN 2 in a 12 part series.


Overall, I thought this year’s Games to be a huge success. 2012’s future is very bright.  Now if only we can do something about that damn summer heat.

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