Hi everybody, welcome inside the CrossFit Update studios for another edition of the CrossFit Games Update Show. I’m Sean Woodland with Tommy Marquez and Pat Sherwood. We are set now for the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games Open just days away as we get things kicked off in Brazil. We are turning our attention to the top stories on the women’s side of the house as we get set to kick things off here. Before we jump into that, let’s just set the table here and show you what the Open has looked like over the past five years as far as participation is concerned. It’s been about 60/40 skewed towards the men, give or take a couple of percentage points. Last year, the women’s participation accounted for 43%, men 57%, but it’s really the growth rate on the women’s side that has been the most impressive. And we talked about this when we addressed the men’s top stories, but we’ll mention it again here. You know, this is a trend based on what you’ve heard from people that we should continue to see. You’ve got some data, Sean, and I have other data, OK, and they’re close. Leading up to this, Ro and I have been doing a lot of interviews with affiliates, getting people fired up about the Open and OK, it’s anecdotal, but the overwhelming majority of affiliate owners that we’ve spoken to said their class breakdown and affiliate breakdown is 50/50 men and women, if not skewed more heavily towards a female population. So we’re seeing the numbers increase, and I don’t think that trend is insignificant. It’s going to continue. Yeah, and you look at the last three years, particularly 2015, 2016 and 2017, that those percentage changes I think correlate pretty nicely with the fact that the women’s competition has largely been a little bit more compelling at the top end, in terms of the final races, the races for the podium, who’s going to win. And I think with especially how things were last year and the audience that we have at the broader public with our network partners and stuff like that, I think we could see that trend continue as more women tune in and get to see what these women in our sport are capable of. The worldwide Open is just the first part of our three-part season and it does matter because it often, especially for the women, gives us an idea as to who is going to do well at the CrossFit Games. When you look at the past winners and how they’ve done at the Games, it is pretty well, Annie Thorisdottir and Kristan Clever tied in 2011, they finished first and second, respectively, at the Games. Kristan Clever then won the Open again in 2012, she finished fourth. Briggs swept in 2013, then won the Open again in 2014, but that was the year that she failed to qualify for the CrossFit Games. Annie Thorisdottir in 2015 won it, but then had to withdraw from the CrossFit Games so she’s the outlier there, and Jamie Greene is the other one; won the Open in 2016 and then she decided to go team, and that year Jamie Greene obviously had a commitment to her team that she wanted to keep, but she also said that she was afraid that she may have peaked too early in the Open and kind of wanted to go team as a result. Do athletes run that risk now that this is so competitive of peaking too early in the worldwide Open? Yeah obviously they run that risk, but I mean, that’s something that’s set into motion well before you actually get to these five Open workouts. If you know your peak is dictated by your training, your prep, your recovery, your approach, you know, everything that your coach puts together for you in the months leading up to it, and so if you’re peaking for the Open, those wheels were set in motion long before. Sure, you can maybe overdo it a little bit in your attempts if you’re blasting the Open workouts four times a week and maybe kind of set yourself back a little bit, but really I think most of these athletes and most of the coaches with their programming are setting their athletes up for, you know, maybe a mini-peak in the Open to make sure that they get to Regionals and another one at Regionals as well. But they should be making sure that their athletes are not 100 percent for the season come Open time as well. So I think yeah, it’s a risk, but it’s not something that they should run into. I almost feel like you’re running the razor’s edge there. I almost feel like every year when Dave Castro finds a way to make the Open more challenging, to make the barrier to entry, you know, that everyone can participate but the elite can segregate themselves, that if you’re not peaking, you need to come darn close because we’ve done these regional shows, how many amazing athletes are now lumped together competing for so few spots that if you do not put forth an amazing performance at Regionals, excuse me, at the Open, there’s a really good chance we won’t even get to see what you’re capable of at Regionals because you didn’t make it. So it’s very, it’s a tightrope that they’re walking. And don’t forget some of the structure changes that we went over with some of these regions. It’s going to be even harder now to even get to the next step at Regionals. So there are some regions where the Open becomes increasingly important. There also are some athletes, as there are every year, who now have some new homes. Here are a couple of the big names who have moved. Sara Sigmundsdottir seems like the only human being on the planet who decided to get out of the Central Regional. She’s going back to Europe, so now the Europe Regional is gonna be a fantastic competition to watch, not that it wasn’t already, and then Meredith Root and Colleen Fotsch, they are staying in North America, but they are switching Regionals as well. Of the women that have now switched places, who made a good decision and who made things tougher on herself? I think Sara Sigmundsdottir probably made a good decision. She’s going back to her family. How can you be upset about that, Sean? OK, she’s going back to her family, but she didn’t make getting to the Games any easier for herself and that fact eluded me until I was interviewing Annie Thorisdottir, and she’s like, “Yeah, OK great,” we split up the world a little bit different, but she’s like, “No change in my world.” She’s like, “This year at Regionals, you’re still gonna have myself, Sara Sigmundsdottir, Holte, Briggs, Helgadottir.” I’m like, “Oh, yeah, geez, it is gonna be insane.” So Sara Sigmundsdottir is gonna make it so that we get a great show out there. I’m interested in these moves by these two athletes, Root and Fotsch, who have the potential to be rookies at the Games this year. Root kind of made it harder on herself, at least in the Open right now, because remember, she moved to Canada West, Canada West only gets five spots to Regionals, that’s a very slim margin. I like the move from Colleen Fotsch. Obviously she moved to be with a coach and, you know, to be closer to some training partners and stuff like that. But I think the South is a largely wide-open region, I think in terms of the women’s side of things outside of Tennil and maybe Camille being the two preeminent athletes there, I think she has a great chance to kind of mix things up come Regionals time because she is a powerful athlete. As we get into the Open, some names are gonna be popping up on our radar that we love talking about them and getting to know the new athletes, but right now, heading into this competition, who are the people that you are paying attention to that may be off the radar a little bit? I am guilty of if somebody misses the Games or misses Regionals for whatever reason, there’s so many other athletes making stories that they go to the back of my mind, and one of them is Brooke Ence. So Brooke did not get to compete last year at Regionals. The year before that, she won her Regional out there in California, did fantastic at the Games and we didn’t get to see her in 2017. She’s on the path to healing, she is very healthy and she is just a freak athlete. She’s one of those athletes that I believe even if she’s quote-unquote “banged up” or operating at 85 percent, she could still show up on game day and be a huge monkey wrench out there. And remember, she’s less than a year removed from from neck surgery. She found out about the fact that she’s gonna have to get a spinal fusion in Week 1 of the Open. She did 17.1 and then found out that her season was basically done, but beyond that I think two athletes that we’ve mentioned before in previous shows, Kaela Stephano and Haley Adams. I’m really excited to see if we can have basically two teenage athletes on the young girls side qualify for Regionals as individuals. Haley Adams did it last year, I think both of them are capable of doing it this year. I think that would be a really cool kind of nod to the competitive level of the teenage girls. And then Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, I think this is a huge, pivotal year in her individual career. You look, she wins everything in 2014, but then she goes 13th, 21st and then a withdrawal due to injury. That’s not to say her fitness wasn’t phenomenal last year, but things have been trending in the wrong direction for her at the Games. I think this is kind of a now-or-never situation for her to really kind of get herself back into the top. It all gets kicked off on Thursday, February 22nd in São Paulo, Brazil, 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, Kristin Holte and Sam Briggs the featured match-up there. We’re also gonna have some local athletes throwing down. It’s gonna be a blast. You can watch it on Games.CrossFit.com or on Facebook Live. You cannot watch it in person unless you already have a ticket because it is sold out. We sold this thing out in less than an hour with like minimal advertising, so I cannot wait to see the atmosphere down there in São Paulo, Brazil. That’s gonna be a lot of fun and remember, if you haven’t registered, there’s still time. Go to Games.CrossFit.com. Register for the Open because you can’t talk trash if you don’t compete. That’s gonna do it for us for today. For Tommy Marquez and Pat Sherwood, I’m Sean Woodland. Get out there, register for the Open and have fun with your fitness.