OC Throwdown Hurdles Event

Immediately when we saw this, we were pissed.

The OC Throwdown isn’t some backwards, random garage competition in the middle of nowhere. It’s a huge deal and a competition that welcomes some very elite athletes as well as some CrossFit Regionals hopefuls. They also consider themselves to be “west coasts largest fitness competition,” and as such we expect better, a lot better.

Once such event, which seems innocuous, turned for the worst as athletes failing to make jumps were thrown to the ground on the tailbones and backs potentially leading to serious injuries.

EVENT 2 WEIGHTLESS : Hurdle Jump – 90 second time cap
MALE: 42”, 44”, 46”, 48”, 50”, 52”, 54”, 56”
FEMALE: 32”, 34”, 36”, 38”, 40”, 42”, 44”, 46”

Here’s a video captured of Event 2:

Let us be clear, this was not a CrossFit HQ sanctioned event and the blame for an event mishap due to the staging of their equipment lies solely on OC Throwdown staff.

Aside from the obvious — an event where athletes are very clearly injuring themselves, this kind of poorly thought out fitness test gives CrossFit a terrible name, especially during a time when the sport is coming under increasing scrutiny and trying to break into mainstream media.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the same competition that Kevin Ogar permanently injured himself last year. Those were entirely different circumstances and had nothing to do with such a poorly thought out event like this, but it’s worth mentioning because this is now two years straight of bad press for the OC Throwdown.

Andrea Ager, Lindsey Valenzuela, and Alessandra Pichelli competed in the OC Throwdown.

UPDATE 1: We added the full description of the event. All events from OC Throwdown are available here.

UPDATE 2: Edited to make sure the post made clear that this was NOT an official CrossFit event and that the programming for this event was provided by OC Throwdown.

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38 replies

  1. Holy crap! I had to stop watching.

  2. I was at OCT and looking forward to this event because I was a hurdler in high school. But this was such a poorly executed event and I was so disappointed. The injury is not worth it. Someone was even taken away by medical staff because of a back injury.

    • Hurdling is fair game. But these falls just looked menacing.

      Great to hear your in person perspective though. Thanks for sharing.

      • I have been reading a lot of bashing here in this post, so I want to try and explain, “from on outsiders point of view,” what I feel might have been going on with this event and why they may have programmed it this way. As the owner of the Elysian Games, the largest event up here in the Northwest, I personally visit and compete in about 15 or more events each year. I also help in the programming, donation of equipment, and the logistics of probably over a dozen events each year.

        As a large event coordinator, I am personally over the standards. I’m over kettlebell swings, box jumps and burpees. I’ve done that shit before. Fran, Grace, Diane, who cares. Old news. You want me to deadlift and then box jump, I do that at almost every event I attend. I can only assume it is the same way with the OC Throwdown. They have been doing this for so long and are so over the standard CrossFit events that they have to bring something new to the table. And as leaders in the industry, we don’t even know what those new ideas are. Someone had to do a thruster first before it ever became a standard in CrossFit. And when it was first done, I am sure that everyone said, well that looks dangerous. I’m gonna put this 200lbs bar over my head. Ya right, you’re an idiot. But now we do it all the time.

        As leaders, we pave the way. So we are burdened with coming up with new ideas, things that have never been done before, and then experimenting with them to see if they are even feasible. The accomplishment of this workout did exactly what it was suppose to do. It had a stopper in it. Just like the 12.4 Open WOD, 150 Wall balls, 90 dubs, and then 30 muscle-ups, if you didn’t have your muscle-ups, you had to stop. It created a big separation in the field. Same thing here. Everyone had to stop, hesitate, and then either go for it or not. And if you could do it, the WOD was quick. And if you couldn’t, you got stuck.

        So before you go bashing the OC Throwdow, think of the last event you went to where you did something new. Almost all the throwdowns going on now are the same workouts and the same old shit. At least they took a chance and tried something new. And I gotta give them Kudos for that. I am 100% positive that they will never do it again, and for sure no other throwdown will. But someone had to try it first before we could even know that it was a bad idea.

        David Israel
        And yes, I am personally attaching my name to this post. This WOD might not have been great, but they attempted something new that no one had ever done before. It wasn’t a great idea, but at least they tried it. If we didn’t try new things all the time, we would still be doing 7 minutes of burpees. And that WOD “2 years in a row,” SUCKED…

      • David, thanks for sharing. Your thoughts were very welcome.

      • Thank you for a different perspective David, but if I may offer a counter: in every other sport people have been doing the same thing for hundred of years; for example Olympic Weightlifters aren’t “so over” the clean and jerk…There are hundreds of “standard” movements in CrossFit that can be combined in infinite ways while preserving the safety of athletes.

      • David. I normally do not get in the middle of these arguments, but I did need to address a couple things in your justification of this competition.
        I first want to say, I do not do cross fit but I am not totally against it like some people. I think there are some really neat ideas crossfit offers but maybe just not executed like I would. So please don’t think this reply is because I am just bashing crossfit by any means.
        So here we go.. saying that one is “over” certain movements is almost ridiculous. EVERY OTHER SPORT that is played or done goes over the same movements EVERY DAY, just to be able to execute them correctly or to the best of their abilities when a competition day comes. for example Weightlifters they perform workouts based around a clean and jerk and snatch their whole career, probably 20 years. Or Power Lifters, they aren’t “over” their lifts and they continue to get stronger and better. That is one of the problems with the mindsets of many (not all) crossfit coaches. YOU MUST PROGRAM TO PROGRESS when you are at an older training age and not just do random things that sound “cool”
        Now let’s talk about the “stopper” you were speaking of in the 12.4 WOD open… I get what you are saying with the muscle ups. BUT there is NOT a stopper in this Hurdle workout. If you can’t get a muscle up..so what, drop down and no big deal…. IF YOU ARE MID AIR and have decided to try to hurdle a 42″ inch hurdle and miss… THAT IS NOT A STOPPER DAVID… you can get seriously injured, break your tailbone, split your head open, break your ankle, tear and ACL, at the least pull a muscle…That is not considered a stopper. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. When there are not highly trained individuals planning out a “new” movement for a competition (there may have been here but they certainly did have a lapse of judgement) there are going to be a lot of hurt athletes.
        THIS IS NOT OK and it was NOT INNOVATED or PROGRESSIVE so I have an issue using those arguments to defend this competition.
        -Kristina MS, CSCS

      • With all respect, I disagree with many things David had to say. To begin with, a leader’s primary concern should be the health and safety of their followers. A public event is not the place to try out new WODs. Or even new combinations of WODs. It is irresponsible. I am no expert but it appears to me that the execution of the hurdle event was irresponsible, especially in terms of equipment. And this at the event where Kevin Ogar was paralyzed last year. People can talk and talk until they are not capable of saying another word, I will never accept that the programming at that event (the OCT) was appropriate. In the morning, the athletes had an event where they had to run 3 miles – the first mile carrying two 53 lb kettle bells (for the men), the second mile carrying one 53 lb kettle bell, and then the third mile for a separate one mile time. The next event was heavy snatches, when Kevin Ogar was injured. Can anyone assure me that the toll that run event took on grip and back absolutely did not contribute to instability problems in the snatch? Was this tested sufficiently, or at all? Or were they using a public competition to test this? In my opinion, if you want to try new events, enlist the help of 100 or so athletes from different skill levels, have them sign a waiver that they might die, and have them try the event. If you try a hurdle event with these 100 “crash-test dummies” and 10 of them land on their head, you might not want to put that event into a public competition. Secondly, I agree that people are not tired of seeing basic CrossFit events. Many CrossFit competitions are becoming gladiator-like last-man-standing type events. Take a lesson from the X-Games. When every competition has to be more difficult and crazier than the last, people start getting really hurt. Finally, it’s not fair to leave all of this up to the competitors. Many of them travel to events where they have to plan in advance, take time off work, etc. Oftentimes, workouts are not announced far enough in advance to make changes. After an athlete has taken time off work, paid entrance fees, paid for airfare, and paid for a hotel, they are not going to drop out because of an event. They are going to give it a try. So programmers have to accept a good deal of responsibility for the safety of the events. I am a Masters Crossfitter and love CrossFit. When I enter a competition, I expect it to be challenging and difficult, but I do not expect it to be inappropriately programmed to the point of being life-threatening.

      • David, pioneers are necessary for the world of fitness. It’s the best way we learn. Having said that, it is incredibly irresponsible to make a large group of the general population your test subjects. And don’t give me the, “they signed up for this” line. If you want to start being respected as a fitness professional, it is your responsibility to program things to challenge people, but minimize risk of injury. These people are clearly not qualified to performing these tasks.

  3. I think this was more of an equipment fail than a programming issue. If you’re going to have athletes participate in the high jump (that’s what this event really was), with out a pit to land on, at the very least you need to use a breakaway hurdle.

    • 100% agree with it being more about the logistics fail or equipment fail rather than a poor test. I thought the test was an excellent one that probably met the objectives of the event organizers, however the static hurdles were poorly designed and not adequately tested beforehand. I tested this event multiple times with breakaway hurdles as did two friends that actually competed in the actual comp. Never once did any of us fall or get hurt, we certainly failed to clear many times but our equipment was safe. One of my friends/teammates that competed in the crossfit games last season fell and broke 3 vertebrae in his back during this event. Although just minor breaks he is likely out for the rest of the competition season. Tough pill for him to swallow. The other friend was so terrified after watching everyone fail, she nearly face planted on the 3rd to last hurdle(one she easily cleared practicing) she’s on this blooper video.

  4. If your going to throw around accusations of “poor testing” I think you better put some reasoning behind why it was a poor test. I agree with the man above saying maybe the equipment could have been better perhaps having the hurdle stick dislodge if you hit it. Regardless this was the best lay out of testing the OC throw down has produced thus far.

    • To be fair, we didn’t say “poor test” or “poor fitness test,” but rather “poorly thought out fitness test.” As one user above pointed out, it would have been better to have used a breakaway hurdle. As you can see from the video athletes are getting injured, and it’s incumbent on the athlete AND the event host to step in and say no.

  5. At least nobody got ran over by a car this time.

  6. Wow, I love this, especially Dave’s reply. Why not break a few bones as you get better right? Maybe GRADUALLY raise the bars over time? Probably a 200# overhead was preceded by 150# and 100#. But with Dave’s logic, why be such a pussy? Put 400# over your head and see what happens? So what if a few folks go to the ER. Progress hurts right?

  7. The problem is David, as a promoter/coordinator, you, of all people should know and understand that athlete safety should be first and foremost. This wasn’t a case like last year where “bad things happen”, this was extremely poorly programmed and truly idiotic. They knew people weren’t going to make it over some of those hurdles, they knew the equipment they were using and they knew that if someone jumped and landed on the hurdle, it was going to fall over and so was the person. There is absolutely no way around the fact that this event was just stupid and a very poor decision. It’s one thing to try and be innovative and another to be stupid and risk athletes (who aren’t being paid and do it because they have passion for the sport) lives. Now, all of that being said, if they had (like someone above posted) used break away hurdles, we probably wouldn’t even be seeing this or discussing it like we are. They “may” be considered innovators. I like the test, but not how the test was ran

    On a bit of a side note, I know you were trying to make a point with your thruster analogy, but that was a terrible one. Weightlifting athletes have been putting 400#+ over their head for decades

  8. Forrest Gump said it best “Stupid is as stupid does”. This is the reason why there is such a long waiting list to see sports doctors.

  9. What kind of uneducated clown thinks up such a ‘logic free’ event?
    And like above, I don’t see many Olympians ‘so over’ historic stalwarts such as the decathlon or marathon.
    Looks like Clown Fit to me and I’m not an outsider.

  10. “Someone had to jump off a bridge for fun so we could know it was a bad idea.” – David Israel, a leader in the creation of new and innovative ways to work out competitively.

    This “WOD” was a shit sandwich. But as we are finding out, some people like the taste of shit, even their own. Sorry David, you are not burdened with coming up with new innovative WODs to please the masses. You are burdened with not having much of a brain.

    This type of wise logic is why competitive Crossfit is ruining Crossfit…

    • Next throwdown: team jump out of a helicopter naked in the frozen Antartic! Last ten still alive after 48hrs make the finals, where you will have to chop dwn a tree and oh squat it. Because box jumps and barbells are too boring.

  11. IMO the problem isn’t with this poorly designed WOD, but what it points out…the participants don’t know how to break a fall.

    CF needs to take a page from Judo and Parkour, and train folks how to break a fall. Rope climbs, muscle ups, box jumps, knees-to-elbows, etc., all can have unexpected vertical drops.

    “The aim of CrossFit is to…best prepare trainees for any physical contingency — not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable.”

    At 0:48 is a perfect example:

  12. This is the reason I don’t take crossfit seriously. There are so many awesome variations already available, and xfit prefers to go with shock and awe. It’s more like these throwdowns are trying to one up each other, instead of testing athletes. There is already enough variety. Stick to what works, it’s fun!

  13. IMO the problem isn’t with this poorly designed WOD, but what it points out…most of the participants don’t know how to break a fall.

    CF needs to take a page from Judo and Parkour, and train folks how to break a fall. Rope climbs, muscle ups, box jumps, knees-to-elbows, etc., all can have unexpected vertical drops.

    “The aim of CrossFit is to…best prepare trainees for any physical contingency — not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable.”

    At 0:48 is a perfect example:

  14. Kevin Ogar got hurt at this event last year too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssl9t5ENftQ Y’all should reevaluate what you are doing as professionals. Competitors are going to compete. You have to take care of them.

  15. As a trauma nurse, I find this horrendous to watch. How easily someone could impale themselves on those poles. Not worth it, no thanks

  16. Crossfit is so f – ing stupid. A bunch of followers who have no idea how to work out. Imho.

  17. Crazy! This is why sports doctors and chiropractors will continue making money.

  18. My stepson owns his own gym, and has competed at the Crossfit Games.
    That workout was a joke that is how you get hurt for sure.
    As the WOD was unfolding you should made an adjustment by at least taking out the higher hurdles for Goodness Sake!!!

  19. Regarding David’s argument.
    The try something new to add a new challenge with no regards to safety is a joke to be honest.
    I’m a pt and it’s like me saying ok I’m so over the deadlift now all my clients know how to perform it let’s see we will do a deadlift but then you have to hop on one foot. No ones tried it before so don’t know if it’s dangerous or not ???? People who design a programme should have the ability to know if a new exercise or wod is dangerous or not using their knowledge and training if they can’t they aren’t qualified to design programmes, and certainly shouldn’t be organising events.

  20. Someone broke their back on this event too, just not as badly. Wtf, they need to get sued or shut down. https://i.imgur.com/DbLDttq.jpg

  21. I was at the 2012 Gorilla Games, a competition which David produced. One of the events culminated in a long set of ring HSPU. The majority of female competitors were unable to complete this movement, and I saw so many terrifying headfirst crashes that I had to stop watching the event. At no point did I see a judge or anyone intervene or advise an athlete to stop making attempts. It was as aggravating and frightening to watch as this poorly executed hurdle event.

  22. Poorly thought out events such as this certainly make it much tougher to defend Crossfit against the Crossfit haters that I encounter. I LOVE Crossfit. It has put me in the best athletic shape of my life (I have been working out and marathon running for years prior to Crossfit). This hurdling event was clearly thrown together without testing its safety and without regard to those athletes participating…embarrassing for the Crossfit community!

  23. This would have been fine had they use bars that dropped apart on contact.

  24. As the ER nurse said above, the possibility of an impaling on the hurdle ends (as if those tennis balls — sometimes missing — would have stopped such a piercing) was obvious since the tipped hurdles would bring those right up… the sheer dumb luck that nobody fell and pierced a kidney or worse was very fortunate.

    Another aspect not noticed by the hurdle and judo experts is that the negligent hurdle design makes a miss extra destabilizing since the top bar will actually RISE as it moves forward over the front pivot — the kind of undercutting that is most dangerous in basketball w/ a resulting metal bar on the floor right where the athlete is falling.

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