July 17, 2009
At the CrossFit Games, 16 men completed the entire Event 2 deadlift ladder, creating a log-jam at the top of the standings. Mike Warkentin interviews Tony Budding of CrossFit HQ to discover the rationale behind the workout.
“Lightweight!” an energized Jeremy Thiel screamed at the end of the deadlift ladder, borrowing one of Big Ronnie Coleman’s better catch phrases. The crowd burst into cheers as the Texan bounded out of the Stadium after completing the WOD with a lift of 505 lb.
All told, 16 competitors tied for first and were rewarded with only one point for the workout, giving them a large lead in a scoring system with points assigned by placement. The lowest score at the end of eight WODs decided the CrossFit Games champions. Shortly after the results were posted, the web was filled with people who were curious about how the 16-way tie would influence the overall scoring.
But who would have thought Graham Holmberg would notch a 35 lb. PR shortly after a trail run that all but ruined Jason Khalipa, the defending champion? The feat is even more impressive when you consider Holmberg finished 56th in the run. He didn’t have much time to recover between WODs because the athletes at the bottom of the run were fed into the deadlift ladder first via a system that rewarded performance with rest.
“Here was our assumption: there’s absolutely no way that you’re going to be able to pull a high percentage of your 1RM deadlift in that format to begin with—every 30 seconds—and especially after a seven-K hill run,” Tony Budding said. “We just made the assumption that your best lift in that environment is going to be a percentage of your max lift, probably between 70 and 85 percent. What we saw instead was that people were pulling at 90 to 110 percent of their previous PRs.”
He added: “What happened from our perspective was these fuckers are so much more competitive and more capable than we possibly imagined.”