The 2014 CrossFit Games season officially kicks off on January 15, when competitors can register for the Open to compete for the title of Fittest on Earth.
This year's competition has a number of rule changes that should help bring the world's best competitors to Carson, California and help answer some questions that needed addressing as CrossFit continues its growth as a sport. With last year's Open already the biggest ever, there's no doubt that 2014 will be the biggest year in CrossFit's history.
There are a number of interesting new twists for the 2014 Games. Most notably, the inclusion of wild card spots.
Forty-three men and 43 women will be awarded spots to the CrossFit Games at the Regionals—that’s it. Even if a past champion qualifies, additional spots will not open up.
If CrossFit chooses to invite more than 43 athletes, the wild card spots will go to the athletes who performed the best relative to all other Regional competitors. The number of wild card spots will be announced following Regionals.
The announcement of wild card spots must come as music to the ears of top competitors like Jamie Hagiya and Andrea Ager, who could make it to the Games with excellent performances at Regionals, without being limited by a cap on competitors coming from a single region.
CrossFit will also expand its drug testing program for 2014.
In 2014, CrossFit will expand out-of-competition (unannounced) drug testing. This means that any registered CrossFit competitor can be tested at any time during the year for any reason.
Games competitor Dan Bailey has said that he suspects some percentage of athletes who've competed at the CrossFit Games are using performance enhancing drugs of some kind.
Could this be the first year when a top athlete is disqualified from competition for using performance enhancing drugs?
For the top athletes that hope to qualify for Regionals, they'll need to make additional arrangements to validate their performances. To qualify for Regionals, athletes must:
1. Use a registered judge who has passed CrossFit’s Judges Course,
2. Have their result validated by an affiliate manager,
3. Videotape their performance.
Of note, with a high probability of being missed by team competitors, "Team competitors are included. If an athlete on a Regional qualifying team finishes in the top 60 in the individual division in their region, he or she will have to submit video of the Open workout requested by CrossFit."
There's little doubt that the 2014 CrossFit Games season will be the biggest ever. Fans should be delighted to find that the rules are being adjusted to bring more legitimacy and the sport's top athletes to Carson, California this year.