New partnerships mean no trip to the CrossFit Games finale for some athletes.
Shortly after switching the location of the 2024 CrossFit Games from Madison, Wisconsin to Fort Worth, Texas, CrossFit HQ has shifted gears yet again by making significant changes for the upcoming season. However, unlike the decision to host the sport’s preeminent event at Dickie’s Arena next year, choosing to overhaul the Adaptive and Age-Group divisions will likely be met with more criticism than excitement.
On Oct. 10, 2023, CrossFit HQ delivered a press release detailing major changes for the 2024 season.
“CrossFit is excited to announce three new partnerships that will help grow the CrossFit Games championship competition and create new opportunities to shine a spotlight on athletes across all divisions. WheelWOD Games, Pit Teen Throwdown, and Legends Championship will host the adaptive and age-group championships for the 2024 CrossFit Games season.
The change will dramatically increase the number of masters and teenage athletes competing in the finals, nearly double the number of divisions for adaptive athletes, and provide a chance for CrossFit to evolve its competition model to make the CrossFit Games internationally scalable in the future.”
Although the partnerships will give more athletes a chance to participate, taking away the opportunity for competitors in the Adaptive and Age-Group divisions to share the same stage as the top Individual and Team performers in the championship round represents an obvious drawback.
Instead, qualifying Masters athletes (ages 35-65+) will move through the online Quarterfinals and Semifinals before advancing to the Legends Championship for an in-person Final. While the 2023 Legends Championship will take place in Tempe, Arizona from Dec. 7-10, it is unclear if the 2024 edition will happen in the same location.
Athletes in the Teens division (ages 14-17) will follow the traditional CrossFit Games stages (Open, Quarterfinals, and Semifinals) before wrapping up their season at the Pit Teen Throwdown. The 2024 edition will still take place in Three Rivers, Michigan, which has hosted the annual fitness competition for several years.
Per the CrossFit press release: “The Pit Teen Throwdown offers a highly competitive arena for world-class athletes to test their skill, strength, and stamina against their peers,” CrossFit HQ wrote in the press release. “Big names in the sport have competed in the Throwdown in the past such as 2023 Rookie of the Year Olivia Kerstetter and 2022’s second-Fittest Woman on Earth Mal O’Brien.”
The 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, which took place in August, crowned several new champions in the Teen division, including:
- Maria Granizo (14-15 Girls)
- Jeremie Jourdan (14-15 Boys)
- Lucy McGonigle (16-17 Girls)
- Ty Jenkins (16-17 Boys)
Moving forward, though, talented youngsters like Granizo and Jourdan will have to settle for showcasing their strength, agility, and fitness at the Pit Teen Throwdown rather than at what should be a jam-packed Dickie’s Arena.
Meanwhile, the entire Adaptive athlete season will be run exclusively by WheelWOD, an organization that brings more than a decade of experience hosting annual competitions. The new partnership will not only expand the number of competitive divisions from eight to 15, but it will also allow athletes from all 15 to have a chance to advance to the in-person final.
The current Adaptive divisions include:
- Seated With Hip Function
- Seated Without Hip Function
- Short Stature
- Multi Extremity
- Lower Extremity
- Upper Extremity
Considering only three divisions (Multi Extremity, Lower Extremity, and Upper Extremity) moved on to the final at the most recent CrossFit Games, the new format should be viewed positively from a participation perspective — especially with WheelWOD offering additional divisions such as Sensory (which includes both vision and hearing) and more specific Upper and Lower Extremity categories as defined by an athlete’s “points of contact” with their relevant limbs.
With the 2023 WheelWOD Games taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina from Nov. 30-Dec. 3, Adaptive athletes can get a hint of what next year’s competition might look like. However, CrossFit HQ said the dates and location for 2024 will be shared at a later time.
Despite shifting directions in such considerable fashion, CrossFit General Manager of Sport and Education Dave Castro believes the changes “will benefit each division in significant ways, most importantly more than doubling qualifying spots for masters and teens and allowing every adaptive division a place at the in-person championship.”
Only time will tell whether the athletes affected share the same sentiment. However, there’s little doubt that the 2024 CrossFit Games will look quite different, and after delivering substantial announcements in successive months, don’t be surprised if more changes are unveiled moving forward.
Featured Image: @crossfitgames / Instagram