Let's get started:
- Watching the Central East regionals this past weekend solidified in my mind that CrossFit as a sport has staying power. The stands were legitimately packed all weekend, and some of the roars from the crowd were unlike anything I've heard at a CrossFit event before. In particular, one moment that stands out was the end of men's event 6 with Rich Froning chasing down Dan Bailey on the lunges. When Dan put the bar down halfway through, the crowd just sensed that Rich had a shot, took their energy to another level, and of course, Rich delivered, gutting out the entire 90 feet to take the event. Few other sports let the spectators really see that type of will and determination to endure pain, and on a regular and repeated basis. It's one of the reasons I've always enjoyed watching track and field, but I think the variety of CrossFit pushes the athletes to places they have never been to before. I think any fan of sport can appreciate seeing that.
- There's no question that the Central East men's region was hands-down the most competitive region. What is up for debate is whether HQ should do anything to remedy the situation. I think inviting athletes solely based on a worldwide regional ranking is not a smart idea - not unless the Regionals are all held on the same weekend and under identical conditions. That means no more outdoor events, and it probably means we all get to watch less of the action. But perhaps some sort of last-chance qualifier might be worthwhile for those in the top 10 of their region? Seeing athletes like Nick Fory and Gerald Sasser miss out on the Games despite putting up scores that would win several other regions is frustrating (see http://crossfitregionalshowdown.com/leaderboard/men).
- After making some adjustments based on the actual results that came in for the overhead squat workout, I recalculated the average relative weight and the load-based emphasis on lifting (LBEL) for this year's regionals. For both men and women, the average relative weight was higher than both 2011 and 2012, but the LBEL was lower. The way I interpret that is that the minimum strength required to be competitive at regionals was very high this year (high relative weight), but for those that could handle the required weights, the competition generally favored the smaller athletes (low LBEL).
- I'd still like to see running more involved in the regional competition. I know there are logistical issues, but it seems silly that in selecting the fittest athletes in the world, no one is required to run more than 800 feet (and even that 800 feet of running, in event 7, is little more than a light jog to recover). How about at least some shuttle sprints? Or a longer run on Friday when fewer people are able to attend anyway?
- On the men's side, it's going to be almost impossible to pick against Rich Froning for the Games. The guy is an absolute machine with virtually no weaknesses. Unless every event is under 4:00 or over an hour, I don't see a lot of scenarios where he doesn't win.
- For women, things are wide open. If Annie comes back, she's got a great shot (after the inevitable backlash against HQ for inviting her). Either way, Sam Briggs and Camille Leblanc-Bazinet look awfully solid all-around, and some of the stronger athletes like Elizabeth Akinwale and Linsday Valenzuela have become more well-rounded in the past year. There are others in the mix as well (Talayna Fortunato, Amanda Goodman, Kara Webb, Rebecca Voigt, etc.).
As for my predictions last week, things turned out fairly well. I totally whiffed on two athletes who made the Games (Lindy Wall and Jordan Troyan). For Wall, at least I have an excuse: last year, she was Lindy Barber, so I did not account for the fact that she was 6th at regionals a year ago. Had I known that, she would have been given a 16% chance instead of the 6% I originally gave her (I didn't even list her among top contenders on the site). With Troyan, although he was 10th at Regionals last year, he didn't have a great Open performance this year (20th in his region), so I just didn't see that one coming.
If I give myself a pass on that, then I ended up with a mean square error of 0.044 across the final two weeks (I predicted a total of 8 regionals). This was significantly better than any of the "default" estimates I mentioned last week. The best of those estimates would have been giving my top 3 athletes in each region a 100% shot, which would have produced a MSE of 0.052. There's always room to improve this modeling, but I think it was a decent start in my first year attempting to predict the regionals.
OK, finally, here's a quick listing of topics I plan to touch on between now and the start of the Games:
- A look at all the events thus far to see which are most correlated with success across a wide variety of events (i.e. which events are "better"). I did a very similar analysis last year and did a shortened version of it after this year's open.
- Adjusted worldwide regional rankings to account for the advantage gained by competing in a later region (and possibly other factors). This will be very similar to my inaugural post on this site approximately a year ago.
- Games predictions. I'll definitely do some sort of stochastic prediction to give each athlete odds of winning the Games (and potentially the odds of finishing second, third, etc.). I may separately do a best estimate of who will finish in the top 5 or 10.
- Perhaps a scientific wild-ass guess (SWAG) about some of the events we could see at the Games. This seemed to be pretty popular during the Open, and of course it requires little-to-no hard work on my part.
- Maybe a bit more analysis on the Open now that I've got a more complete dataset (thanks again to Michael Girdley at girdley.com for hooking me up with that data). This could wait until after the Games, depending on time.
If you've got other ideas, by all means let me know. Looking forward to the Games in just six short weeks. I've got my gold ticket, and I hope you all do, too!