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Friday, July 26, 2013

After Day 1, Is Rich Froning Still The Favorite?

Anyone who has been following the CrossFit Games for the past few years probably knows that the results after the first couple events generally don't really look a whole lot like the results at the end of the weekend. For one, there are simply a lot of events left to shake things up. This year, it appears we have at least 8 left, but I'm guessing more. But also, the early events have typically involved some atypical CrossFit movements, particularly swimming. The best swimmers have had a big advantage in the early events in the past few years, but the best swimmers aren't necessarily the best CrossFitters, so they often fall off over the course of the weekend.

Still, if you're making predictions right now (and you can make them up until the first Friday event, in fact, at the contest at, you can't simply ignore the results from Wednesday. Those points are in the bank, and guys like Dan Bailey (currently 34th) now have a lot of ground to make up if they want to make it back into contention. My stochastic projections prior to the Games had Bailey picked very high, but how high would I pick him right now? And what about Rich Froning, who was a heavy favorite coming in but is currently in 6th?

Well, I took a couple hours to look into this. What I did was pretty simple: I re-ran my stochastic projections, but I replaced three of the random events with the actual results from Wednesday. The events I replaced were the random event based on last year's "long event" and 2 events based on this year's Regionals. My model still assumes 15 scored events, so we have 10 left that are based on this year's Regionals and 2 left that are based on this year's Open. If we assumed this year will have fewer than 15 events, the results would a little bit different - the current leaders would have a bigger advantage. But I think there are still a lot of points left on the table.

To keep things short, I'm not going to reproduce the entire table here for men and women. Rather, I'll give a quick recap of the current favorites, as well as some of the biggest movers after day 1.

Favorite: Rich Froning, 51% chance. Froning dropped from a 58% chance prior to the Games but still is close enough to be considered the favorite in the long run.
Biggest contender: Jason Khalipa, 34% chance. Khalipa was already in the discussion, but his dominant performance on day 1 moved him up from a 7% chance coming in.
Others still with a strong shot: Scott Panchik, 7%; Josh Bridges, 5%. Both lost some ground on the rowing events. For those who read my methodology, you'll recall Panchik and Bridges were expected to do well on day 1 because of strong showings on the long events in past years.
Other notes: Dan Bailey dropped from a 1.7% shot to an 0.6% shot after a rough day 1, and Ben Smith fell from 3.6% chance to a 1.0% chance. Even the guys like Garrett Fisher, Chad Mackay and Justin Allen who did really well on day 1 are still pretty big longshots based on their Regional performances. The fact that the leader is Jason Khalipa doesn't make it any easier for them to make up ground. However, I do now have Fisher (currently 2nd overall) with a 7% chance at the podium, up from 1% coming in.

Favorite: Sam Briggs, 66% chance. She was the favorite coming in at 32%, and with a lead, she's got to be an even bigger favorite. She doesn't have a lot of holes in her game, but there are still a lot of unknown events that could shake things up.
Biggest contender: Lindsey Valenzuela, 8% chance. She had a strong day 1 and is always a threat to win some of the heavier events. She moved up from about a 5% shot coming into the Games.
Others still with a strong shot: Kaleena Ladeirous, 6%; Rebecca Voigt, 7%; Elizabeth Akinwale, 4%; Talayna Fortunato, 3%. Ladeirous and Fortunato moved into the mix with good showings on day 1. Akinwale was a big contender coming in but now has a good deal of ground to make up sitting in 20th.
Other notes: Camille Leblanc-Bazinet dropped from a 9% chance to just a 2% chance now that she's back in 28th. There are three other athletes still with at least a 1% chance: Michelle Letendre (2.4%), Alessandra Pichelli (2.3%) and Kara Webb (2.0%). Rory Zambard, relatively unknown coming in, is at a 0.3% chance of claiming the title, after a very solid day 1.

It's still early, and the key for the top athletes is just to keep themselves within striking distance. Nobody is truly out of it at this stage, but a few athletes certainly made things a bit harder on themselves, while others gave themselves a real shot.

I'll be in California watching the Games in person for the next few days, and I don't plan to post anything else until I get back into town next week. Until then, enjoy the Games everyone!

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