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Friday, May 24, 2013

Quick Hits: Regional Week 1 Recap and Week 2 Predictions

Welcome back, all. It's been a long week for me with my Final Assessment last weekend - I haven't really haven't had a day off work since the prior Monday. I've been able to keep up with Regionals and update my predictions a bit, but not as much as I'd hoped. This upcoming week should be better for sure.

But either way, I wanted to throw out some initial reaction and analysis based on week 1 of the competition, and afterwards I'll put up my predictions for top 5 in each region (men and women this week). On with it:

  • Streaming video coverage of the Regionals has been great so far. While the production value still leaves a lot to be desired, the fact is we can now watch far more live regional action than ever before. For me, this meant I was able to take some crucial 10-15 minute breaks from working on my F.A. to watch Josh Bridges basically wipe the floor with everyone. Speaking of which...
  • Josh Bridges basically wiped the floor with everyone. Wow. I had a sense he would do well, perhaps even win his region, but he looked like a legitimate contender for the title. By my count, Bridges was top 3 in the world on five of seven events. And quite frankly, Rich Froning hasn't been pushed in either of the past two Games, so let's hope Bridges can make things interesting this year.
  • Sam Briggs also looks like the woman to beat this year. By my count, she was top 3 in the world on four of seven events. If Annie does not compete, I think Briggs has to be the favorite right now based on her 2011 performance (4th at the Games), her dominance of the Open and then what we saw last weekend. There aren't a lot of holes in her game.
  • That being said, let's not get caught up in all the "world records" we've seen thus far. These top times in almost every event are going to fall, and with the Central East men's region going in week 4, I wouldn't be surprised if they own 4 or 5 of the 7 records when the dust settles. And as I showed last year in my very first post, the later regions do tend to have an advantage in most events.
  • Please, can we go a week without a judging fiasco? Without being at the SoCal region in person, it's hard to comment, but we had two issues that clearly stunk:
    • Ryan Fischer's temper tantrum and subsequent tongue-lashing by Dave Castro. No one really came off looking good here. The videos I saw of Fischer's no-reps did look pretty questionable, but these judges are volunteers, and as a community, we can't afford to have athletes intimidating them like that if we want to have any judges left. These events simply don't happen without volunteers. That being said, it still came off a little distasteful for HQ to make an example out of Fischer, but it's probably a good idea to get out in front of this.
    • Athletes being briefed incorrectly on the minimum standards for event 2. Not sure how this is possible - and I saw one commenter say Boz actually did brief them correctly - but either way, I can't believe there could be an issue knowing the rules for an event that has been released for a month.
  • I wish HQ would just come up with a solid stance on the whole "former champions get a pass to the Games" issue. In prior years, they had said former champions received automatic invitations for life. Recently, they've been boasting that even the former champions have to earn their way. Now they go and invite Kristan Clever, who finished 15 points out of 3rd place last weekend. Smart money says they're going to invite Annie if she's ready. I'd have no problem if they just said that former champions get automatic invites, but when you leave things vague like this, it just comes off as if HQ is making up the rules as they go along. That's not what the sport needs going forward.
Before I move onto this week's predictions, let's take a look back and see how last week's predictions turned out. I ended up hitting 7 of 13 men's qualifiers (4 qualified from Europe), and of the 20 athletes I predicted to be in the top 5 of their region, I got 10 right. That sounds pretty good, but it's roughly the same as you would have done just basing your picks off the Open. However, I did look at how my model did predicting the entire regional field (I didn't post any picks outside the top 5, but I had them set up).
  • Due to time constraints, I looked back at 3 men's regions: SoCal, North East and South East. 
  • The R-squared for my picks (based on predicted rank vs. actual rank) was 49% in SoCal, 22% in the South East and 40% in the North East.
  • The R-squared if you had picked solely based on Open performance was 39% in SoCal, 18% in the South East and 34% in the North East. So I did do a bit better as we look at the whole field.
  • For athletes in those regions who finished in the top 0.5% of the Open worldwide, I looked at how past Games and Regional experience affected their shot at the Games. 
    • Of 2012 Games competitors, 38% made the Games this year. 
    • Of those completing all 6 events at the Regionals last year, 5% made the Games this year. 
    • Of everyone else, 10% made the Games. 
    • Interesting how the newcomers fared slightly better so far. Let's see if that holds up through 3 more weeks.
It's still early, so we'll have to wait until week 4 is in the books to really see how my model held up. I'm hoping to make some headway on an alternate model this week to give estimates of the chances of each athlete making the Games, but I haven't got there yet. Anyway, on to the picks.

1. David Levey
2. Jaco Van der Vyver
3. Jason Smith
4. Neil Scholtz
5. Daniel Crous

1. Chad Mackay
2. Rob Forte
3. Brandon Swan
4. Kieran Hogan
5. Brendan Clarke

Canada East
1. Albert-Dominic Larouche
2. Matthew Lefave
3. Jeff Larsh
4. Jonathan Daniel
5. Jay Rhodes

Northern California
1. Jason Khalipa
2. Neal Maddox
3. Gabe Subry
4. Garret Fisher
5. Shaun Eagan

South Central
1. Jason Hoggan
2. Aja Barto
3. Bryan Diaz
4. Paul Smith
5. Drew Bignall

Top 10 Overall
1. Jason Khalipa
2. Neal Maddox
3. Albert-Dominic Larouche
4. Chad Mackay
5. Gabe Subry
6. Rob Forte
7. Brandon Swan
8. Jason Hoggan
9. Aja Barto
10. Bryan Diaz

1. Mona Pretorius
2. Rika Diedericks
3. Carla Nunes da Costa
4. Nicole Seymour
5. Janine Prinsloo

1. Rush Anderson Horrell
2. Amanda Allen
3. Amy Dracup
4. Jessica Coughlan
5. Kara Webb

Canada East
1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet
2. Michelle Lentendre
3. Lacey Van Der Marel
4. Jennifer Lymburner
5. Isabelle Tardif

Northern California
1. Annie Sakamoto
2. Sarah Hopping
3. Miranda Oldroyd
4. Chyna Cho
5. Katie Hogan

South Central
1. Jenn Jones
2. Candice Ruiz
3. Amanda Schwartz
4. Holly Mata
5. Jenna Gracey

Top 10 Overall
1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet
2. Michelle Letendre
3. Jenn Jones
4. Ruth Anderson Horrell
5. Annie Sakamoto
6. Candice Ruiz
7. Amanda Allen
8. Sarah Hopping
9. Amanda Schwartz
10. Miranda Oldroyd

Enjoy the weekend!


  1. Nice analysis. I have to disagree with you on one point. While HQ's changes on the "former champions get a pass to the Games" issue may be confusing, I think it makes perfect sense. Back when they first said this, the games were small enough that it was perfectly reasonable. Now that the Games have grown beyond anything that any of us would have imagined back then things are a bit different. It seems obvious to me that there's no guarantee that old winners will always be competitive in the future. OPT was 51st in his region in the Open this year and 840th in the world. There are logistical considerations to allowing more athletes compete in the Games, and therefore it's not reasonable to give blanket qualification to past winners who are no longer competitive. However, HQ is trying to find the fittest person in the world, so I think it's perfectly reasonable for them to invite anyone they think is a legitimate contender. Kristan and Annie clearly are.

    So IMO there's nothing to wonder about. The free pass has been rendered obsolete. And HQ reserves the right to invite anyone they think will contribute to the competition. End of story.

    1. See, I think it's a matter of opinion. I'd prefer that HQ set a more strict set of rules regarding who can be invited. Unless they explicitly say that former champs always get a free pass, I think they should reserve the extra invitations for extreme circumstances, preferably with some wording about what those circumstances are. Is this only reserved for former champs? If not, why not invite Andrea Ager last year when she was top 20 worldwide in the regionals? Clever probably won't finish that high this year.

      I see your point, but I'd rather remove as much subjectivity as possible, especially given how much HQ loves to talk about "proving" your fitness.

      And of course, thanks for reading.

  2. We've had a few top athletes that developed rhabdo at the European regionals. Any thoughts? Could we blame programming. Event 4 followed by the 21-15-9 of deadlifts and boxjumps. Interesting to see if we see anymore occurrences of rhabdo in other regions. Of course environment plays a roll. The arenas airconditioning was under par and worth mentioning.

    1. It's hard to comment for me since I have not heard much about this. How many athletes were affected? Anyone in any other regions?

      My initial thought is that yes, the programming is brutal, but I don't see it as any more grueling than 2011 or 2012 regionals. Remember the 2009 Games day 1? Doesn't seem like this is on that level in terms of volume. If there were no reports of rhabdo from other regions, I'd think the problem is more due to the conditions at that venue and athletes not managing their rest well enough throughout the weekend.

      But again, I don't know enough details about this to say for sure.

  3. Is there a site that aggregates all regional scores to see "worldwide" rankings. Curious who would have qualified had they been in different region.

    1. I believe the Games site leaderboard will add a 'Worldwide' region once all regions are complete. If you click on that, you'll see the worldwide standings. I'll also be putting together my own adjusted rankings once we're all done. Last year I did this in order to account for the fact that the athletes competing in the latter weeks have a noticeable advantage.

      See my first couple of posts from last spring for more details on how I did that.