American Open Recap

This post is written by Jacob Tsypkin of CrossFit Monterey, who coached two female lifters. I asked him to do a write up of his experience at the American Open.  He said, “I’ll do my best to keep the boring details to a minimum and tell some stories of what I think were totally sweet lifts.”


The venue was awesome.  The hotel was very comfortable and attached to the event center, meaning it was very easy for athletes to relax the day of competition – you could easily go back to your room after weigh-in and relax.  The competition room was large and had plenty of seating, and the platform was a large stage that allowed the lifter to be easily seen from anywhere in the room.  Perhaps of greatest importance, the warm-up room was spacious and well stocked with good equipment – no one had to scramble for platforms, bars, or plates (Dynamic Eleiko provided high quality bars and plates for the event, and as far as I can tell there were no bars that weren’t in great condition.)  There was even a small area set up in the back of the warm-up room for non-competitors to get a training session in, including platforms and squat racks.


Overall, I was happy with the organization of the event.  Pretty much all the sessions ran on time.  It was easy to find everything and to get around.  Technical officials were easy to find whenever you needed them.  There were a few times that technical issues slowed a session down, but apart from that things ran pretty smoothly.

Editor’s Note: Other people have reported that they were unhappy with the organization of the event or the venue. I’m sure experiences varied. 


Those who know me know that I think the pressout rule is silly.  But rules are rules, and I coach my lifters to abide by them.  However, the absurd standards at this meet were off the chart.  First, things were inconsistent: during the B sessions on Friday night. A friend of mine who was in the audience commented that there were multiple occasions on which two lifts which seemed identical, one on platform 1, and one on platform 2, were judged differently.  I have heard it claimed that USAW wants to “enforce the standards lifters can expect in international competition.”  Well folks, in international competition the judges know that a slight bobble of the elbow upon receiving the bar in the jerk is not the same as a pressout.  They also know the difference between a shoulder and an elbow, a concept which some of the judges at the American Open seemed to find difficult to grasp.  I saw multiple lifts get red lighted for no other reason, as far as I can tell, then that they looked hard.  Everyone I discussed this with seemed to have the same opinion on the matter.

Lifts of Note

(Obviously there were more epic lifts than those lifted here; these are just the ones I came to mind.)

Some of you know/know of Ben Claridad.  His lifter CC went 77/103 in the 69kg women’s A session.  Her 103kg jerk was legitimately one of the most ridiculous lifts I’ve ever seen.  She locked the jerk out in an INCREDIBLY deep lunge, one which any lifter would have trouble recovering from.  As if that weren’t enough, her foot slipped on the stage as she brought the lift back.  This sent CC careening around the platform, backward, forward, and side to side.  Through all this, she maintained a strong lockout overhead, eventually stabilizing and getting white lights on the lift.

Also in the 69kg women’s session, 19 year old Jenny Arthur dominated the clean & jerk, opening 120kg and finishing by absolutely crushing 127kg, a new American Senior Record (she broke the junior record on her first lift.)  Let me put this into pounds, as it seems to have more impact that way for us Americans: a 19 year old girl weighing 152lbs, smoked the piss out of a 280lb clean & jerk.  I guess we should all harden the fuck up, shouldn’t we?

The “Most Reckless” award goes to my friend Kevin Cornell of Pittsburgh Barbell.  Competing in the 105kg men’s A session, Kevin snatched 145, got a bullshit red light on a beautiful 150, and went 154 anyway to try to make up some kilos.  Unfortunately he was unable to make the lift.  In the clean & jerk, Kevin missed his opener and second attempt at 185.  Having put in a decent lift in the snatch, the sensible thing to do would have been put in a third attempt at 185 to get a total.

But Kevin is not a sensible guy.  Kevin wanted a damn medal.

So he called for 190, then 193, which was a lifetime PR attempt.  For those of you who may not know how a weightlifting meet runs, you should know that this has a very significant impact: because the attempts in a weightlifting meet follow the weight on the bar, rather than the round-robin style of a powerlifting meet, not only was Kevin taking an 8kg jump after two misses, the large increase in load meant that he would have a very long break between attempts – about 12-15 minutes, since it was a very large weight class and there were a lot of attempts between 185-192.  To add to to the absurdity of this increase, Kevin did not deign to follow standard practice for such a situation.  Normally, a lifter would go into the warm-up room and work his way back up.  Perhaps take a rep at 140, then 160 to stay warm.  Kevin took two attempts with…70.  Not 170.  Actual 70.

When he stepped onto the platform, I stood watching, prepared to see a missed lift.

Kevin Cornell wanted that medal real fucking bad.  He stroked the clean and racked it.  Now, Kevin can front squat 240, so if he racks a clean, he’s probably gonna stand up with it.  And he did without too much struggle.  Kevin also rarely misses jerks, so he popped it overhead for a good lift and went home with a bronze medal, proving that sometimes, you’ve just got to do it live.  Way to be reckless, Kevin.

An honorary “super reckless” award goes to Kollin Cockrell, who, knowing it was his last chance to break the Junior American Record in the clean & jerk, jumped from 187kg to 201kg.  He missed the jerk, but props to him for doing the reckless thing in pursuit of greatness.

Kollin Cockrell attempting that 201kg C&J in the 105kg class. Pic is clearly from HOOKGRIP.

Lastly, I want to express my pride in my two lifters, Ariel and Amy.  Amy was there competing in the Outlaw Open, but we chose to take her to her first meet a few weeks ago in order to attempt to qualify for the American Open.  She qualified for the 69kg B session and lifted on Friday.  She had a decent session in the snatch, matching her competition PR of 62kg.  In the clean & jerk, Amy got some bullshit red lights on her first lift at 86kg.  Her second lift, also 86kg, passed with two white lights, but got one SUPER bullshit red light (anyone with eyes could see it was a good lift – this was one of the ones that got called for looking too hard.)  After coming off the platform, I told her “fuck it, let’s go big.  I’m calling for 90.”  90 was 1kg under her best clean, and a 3kg PR in the clean & jerk.  After I came back from calling for the attempt, Amy looked at me and said “I’m not letting them take this from me.  This is my lift.”

I told her to go out there, and make a statement.

She did – she absolutely CRUSHED 90, for three white lights, a PR clean & jerk, and 5th place overall in the total in the Outlaw Open.

Additionally, Amy’s nickname is Baby Gorilla.  She has traps to make Brent Kim envious.  Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

My second lifter, Ariel (yes, she is named after “The Little Mermaid,”) competed in the 69kg women’s A session on Sunday.  Ariel has been training since March, and has done some impressive lifts – 76kg in the snatch and 99kg in the clean & jerk.  However, she has been plagued by shoulder problems, which have become increasingly serious in the last month.  She popped the shoulder out of place on Tuesday of the week before.  She had some soft tissue work done and was feeling good – until it moved again on Saturday during a light session, with 55kg.  Though Ariel was obviously concerned, she wanted to compete.

Ariel is probably the best competitor I’ve ever worked with.  In the heat of competition, she is a different being.  During the course of her warm-up, she became more and more composed, until her first attempt at 71kg.  No problem.  Second attempt at 74kg, Ariel was a little bit hesitant on the finish, and it’s lifts like these that tend to lead to problems with the shoulder.  She missed it out front.  I expected it to shake her, but she walked off the platform collected.  She walked out for her third attempt, and though the shoulder was visibly hurting, she pulled the hell out of the bar, racked it, and fought hard to walk out a good lift – 2kg under her PR with a seriously unstable shoulder.  Her demeanor changed completely for the clean & jerk, and she made 95kg, for a 169 total and 11th place in her first national meet, in a very large and VERY competitive weight class.

I checked with some science mother fuckers, and according to math, I could not be more proud of my girls than I am.

Overall, the 2012 American Open was a great event.  Organized, well run, and a lot of fun.  I hope they choose to hold it in the same place for a few years to come, and if you were on the fence about going this year, I hope that this brief summary helped you decide to come next year.  Maybe even qualify, and compete yourself.