Why The Open Matters Now & Later

In case you missed the news earlier this week, the scores from the CrossFit Open are now official. The national champions have been crowned and the top 20 are now established. You can see the scores for yourself at the CrossFit leaderboard website. 

You may already know that the champions and top 20 finishers who weren’t champions in both the male and female fields are automatically qualified for the 2020 CrossFit Games. What you may not know is that each of the Sanctionals taking place between now and the Games in Madison can also be affected. This is true for both the athletes who are now qualified as well as those who have yet to secure their spot in the field 

The Athletes Now Qualified

For the athletes like overall champions Patrick Vellner and Sara Sigmundsdottir, securing their positions allows them to have a lot of options throughout the rest of the season. They can now plan their training over the next seven months and may choose to enter different Sanctionals throughout the year for their own reasons.

Take Tia-Clair Toomey, for example. She is committed to doing both the Mayhem Classic as well as Wodapalooza (the latter event you can watch live here on FloElite). Thanks to her effort in the Open, she is officially the Australian national champion and has her place in Madison secured. So why should she still compete in those two Sanctionals?

Competing in these events can help her gauge how she is performing in competition environments. She may find a weakness or another aspect of her fitness game that she can work on so she is better prepared to be at her best at the Games.

Another reason, while likely not a primary motivating factor, is the opportunity to earn extra prize money. At the end of the day these champions are professional athletes and this is how they earn their living. Competing in these Sanctionals also allows them to promote themselves, the sport, and their sponsors. They can also travel to a different part of the world they may have never visited before.

Of course, they can also stay home and focus on training for the Games alone. The benefit to this is that they can do all they can in the comfort of their home area and train in the gym they know. Not many athletes have chosen this option, but it is available to those who now have their Games ticket punch.

The Athletes Not Yet Qualified

For the athletes who failed to earn their qualifying spot as of yet, there are advantages for them as well. The athletes that are now qualified may be less likely to jump in multiple Sanctionals which means that is fewer athletes that they need to be concerned with at the event he or she enters. So that increases the chances that they can win a spot themselves.

But let’s say that one of them does compete. Ben Smith is currently scheduled to be in the field at the Mayhem Classic in Cookeville, Tennessee. He finished 28th in the Open, but since the national champions are qualified by winning their nations, he earned one of the top 20 spots at the Games. While it’s always an honor to share a platform with a former Fittest Man on Earth, he is still an opponent at that contest. If he wins, he takes that top spot on the podium and the prize money.

The good news is that he does not take the qualification. The top 20 qualification takes precedence over the Sanctional win. So the remaining athletes in the field don’t have to necessarily win. They only have to be the highest finisher that doesn’t already have a qualification. If the top five finishers are already qualified, then the sixth-place finisher gets the qualification. That is a little less pressure which can serve as a relief and allow the athlete to perform at his or her own best.

The downside to not already being qualified is that they have to chase that qualification by entering more Sanctional events. Unfortunately, that also means a greater risk of injury or all the travel and training taking a toll on the body. Ultimately, the athlete in question might not be at his or her best at Madison which means they could be eliminated early in the weekend.

So what does all of this mean? It pays off to perform well in the Open because there are more options and the athletes that do can implement strategy throughout the rest of the season. For the folks looking to qualify, no rep can be left on the platform and every opportunity matters that much more.


Roger Lockridge is from Lewisburg, WV. His work has been featured on numerous platforms and magazines in the fitness industry over the last 10 years. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @rocklockridge.

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