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  • Reaper Outdoors Premier

    Kill Cliff presents Reaper Outdoors: Survive the Hunt which premieres on The Sportsman Channel at 7:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. CST) on December 30, 2014. This isn’t your typical hunting show.

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    “We aren’t sitting in tree stands for hours waiting for some animal to walk by,” explains show producer and hunter Dan “Reaper-02” Datish. “This is a show about actively tracking game using the tactics we have all learned in the military and also how to survive based on what we have around us.”

    For Datish, and the other members of Survive the Hunt (Ron “Reaper-01” Bellan and Jon “Reaper-03” Bellan), this program can take your hunting experience to the next level.

    “People have to train for what we do. We could be hunting anything: deer, elk, pig, whatever. We use high level military gear and weapons.”

    Datish and the others provide a blueprint for other hunters to learn to survive off the land, find food, track game and make shelters out of available materials.

    “With the popularity of things like CrossFit, we’ve seen more and more people who want to try to hunt their own food,” says Datish. “We like to do it our way. We used the things we learned, our military tactics, and actively hunt our game. If we come across some food, we can show the viewers how to find it and what is safe to eat. Sometimes we hunt for days so we need shelters and we show people who watch the show how to make that too. We’ll give you a no bullshit way to start a fire and stuff like that.”

    The military background and focus on living off the land is what Datish believes separates his show from being both a “traditional” hunting show, but it doesn’t exactly fit the survival show domain either.

    “Some of those shows can be extreme. Most regular hunters are never going to be in those types of places. For us, each hunt is different. We either walk in, jump in (from a plane or helicopter) or swim in. But once we’re there, we’re going to work as a team and survive on our own based on our training and teamwork,” says Datish.

    Find out more about taking your hunting game to the next level and catch Datish and the rest of his team on Reaper Outdoors: Survive the Hunt presented by Kill Cliff.

  • The 2015 Open: Critiquing the Critics

    The Open is changing and—surprise, surprise—there are critics already.

    There’s a saying we use at my affiliate that goes like this: “Sometimes what’s good for business isn’t what’s good for fitness.” It mostly has to do with the vocal minority who is always pushing for “more grinders, more grinders” at the expense of other important aspects of fitness, like strength and skill work.

    But in the case of the changes to the 2015 Open, I believe it’s the right call for both fitness and business. The critics will soon be quieted, the same way they were in 2011 when CrossFit eliminated Sectional competitions. People lost their shit. But just a short time later, they embraced the online Open competition.

    Since 2011, selection to the CrossFit Games has largely remained the same. Until now: Combined regions.

    The moment the post-CrossFit Invitational video was released, where Dave Castro gave some vague details about this year’s plan, people in my region got up in arms.

    “We’re losing our Canadian-ism” was the general jist of the sentiment. Others made the argument that we are a large geographical region–that this should somehow protect our autonomy in terms of being our own region.

    I understand and sympathize with the sentiment, and my first reaction, too, was “Nooooooooo.” But when I sat back and thought rationally about it, I came to conclusion that we don’t have a valid complaint. Canada West will be combined with the North West Region, and according to my (I like to think) careful calculations, we’re the two weakest regions in North America.

    In 2014, I was second at the Canada West Regional. Considering there are four weeks between the first and last weekend of regionals, it’s not 100 percent accurate to compare scores; however, comparisons still expose who the strong and weaker regions are. And when I plugged my scores into every other region in the world, I was humbled. My results would have ranked me 10th in Southern California. 12th in Canada East. 14th in the Norheast. And as low as 17th in Europe.

    Second in Canada West and 17th in Europe. Can you blame them for mixing things up this year?

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    The North West Region was the only other region in North America where, I believe, on a perfect day of competing, I could have stood a remote chance at qualification. I would have been 7th with my scores from the Canada West regional competitions, which was just one week before the event in Kent, Washington.

    So with five berths on the line this year, I personally want to give Castro a giant hug for combining our region with the North West.

    Jeremy Jones, owner of CrossFit Diablo and Alessandra Pichelli’s personal coach, also believes that what we know so far about the changes this year makes sense—on all accounts. It is the right move as a sport, as Jones believes it will balance out some of the regions. And, it makes sense from a business standpoint “because there will be less stress on the Games crew to put on as many events, saving money and allowing more resources for even better events,” Jones said.

    Funny enough, financial savings is one of the reasons people are bitching on online forums. “They’re just doing this to save money. This is bullshit,” was one of the main themes on comment threads after the announcement.

    I personally don’t think money was the driving force behind this decision, but even if saving money was an added bonus to push for change, so what? We’re not talking about the government cutting social welfare programs here. CrossFit is business operating in the free market. Saving money is one of the things a successful businesses is supposed to do. To be critical of that is absurd.

    But more than financial savings, Jones reiterated his belief that the changes are also best for fitness—that they will get the best people to the Games.

    “There always seemed to be a few regions that had someone make the Games because the programming was “perfect” for (that one person)…,” he said. “Combining the regions should help in those cases.”

    The other cause for complaint and concern is the distinction between people who consider themselves “Open athletes” versus “Regionals athletes.” This argument has definitely crossed my mind on a personal level. I have always done better at Regionals than in the Open, especially when events like 7-minutes of burpees are programmed.

    That being said, as has often been said, the best athletes will still prevail. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Sam Briggs are Open athletes. They’re also Regionals athletes. And, of course, they’re Games athletes. Jones agrees and takes it one step further.

    “If programmed correctly, the Open has the ability to be programmed for the absolute beginner and the most advanced CrossFit athlete,” he said, adding that he doesn’t expect programming to be much different this year than in past years. That being said, he does expect a slightly higher level workout or two this year, especially considering the fact that there’s a scaled division.

    Despite this fact, Jones is making sure his athletes are even more ready than usual to get through the Open.

    “We are going to make sure that people who are Regional and Games-bound are a bit more prepares for the open. We want to make sure that those metabolic fires are stoked and red hot for the Open, as opposed to smouldering slowly to temper the other strengths and skills,” he said.

    “There are a few Games-level athletes that I work with who still may be able to make the Open a bit of a side note to their general program. But for many of our athletes, the Open is going to require a deviation from the way we might have programmed in the past—a large detour for some, a small one for others,” he added.

    The biggest change he expects we’ll see is even more athletes forgoing their individual aspirations to join a team. “The level of team competition may get a whole lot tougher,” he said.

    But finances and competition aside, perhaps the hidden brilliance of this new selection process—and something I haven’t read much discussion about—is what the system will do for affiliate pride.

    Since we’re still going to be competing against our smaller regions during the Open competition, we’ll maintain our smaller territorial regional identity. And I believe this regional pride will be strengthened under the new format.

    When the regional competitions arrive, friendly rivalries will likely develop between the two combined regions, with fans on both sides cheering for what they see as “their” athletes. I can picture a sea of proud red and white Canada West gear at this year’s regionals supporting our athletes against our American competitor’s—a beautiful sight for the sport.

  • 2014 Crush Games - Sunday (Championships)

    Kill Cliff athletes Mat Fraser, Cole Sager, Stacie Tovar and Grace Dresher, who collectively dominated the qualifier workouts on Saturday, picked right up where they left off for Sunday’s third and final day of the 2014 Crush Games in Miami, FL.

    Dresher and Tovar started the day in first and second place respectively and maintained a comfortable lead in the Female Pro Division as they got back to work. In the first event, titled “Old McDonald,” Dresher and Tovar did exactly what they needed to and Tovar notched a second place finish while Dresher followed close behind her in third. After the first of three workouts on championship Sunday, Dresher maintained a narrow one point lead over Tovar as the pair began to pull away from the rest of the competitors. Event number two called “2012 Throwback” was a combination of both legless and regular rope climbs mixed with heavy front squats. Tovar showed everyone why she is the athlete to beat as she grinded through this workout finishing third in the heat and pushing her way past Dresher into the first place spot going into the third and final event of the weekend. Dresher struggled in some of the later rounds with the legless portion of the rope climbs and finished eighth place, dropping her to second overall.

    Tovar, proved again that strength is “booty” while sporting her trademark white shorts. She left no doubt during the final event of the day as she laid waste to both the competition and her reps winning the final Sunday workout titled, “Timothy Davis.” This up-and-back event, for both the men and women, started and finished with muscle-ups, followed by two rounds of “DT” (12,9,6 deadlifts, hang cleans and shoulder-to-overhead) and finishing up with 120 double unders. Tovar was the only Female Pro athlete to finish the workout in the 10 minute time cap and cruised to the overall Champion of the 2014 Crush Games. Dresher ended her weekend with a strong finish as well coming in second in both the last event and the overall standings.

    Mat Fraser entered the morning sitting comfortably in first place and never looked back. In a very “Rich Froning-esque” performance, Fraser kept his sights on the scores and results of the second place Sager and went into each workout with a simple plan: beat Cole by at least one spot. The strategy paid off right away as Fraser finished the opening event in second while Sager came in fourth. While neither competitor dominated the second event seeming to almost pace their efforts against one another on both the legless and regular rope climbs and 225 lb. front squats. The scores they posted kept both men comfortably within the top two spots and both easily made the final cut of 12 remaining athletes who would compete the third and final event on Sunday.

    Having locked up both first and second place going into the last workout (the eighth of the weekend), both men didn’t slow down as Sager pushed past the final set of muscle-ups and jogged to a first place finish followed closely behind by Fraser. The weekend ended with Mat Fraser taking the 2014 Crush Games Male Pro Division Championship with 27 total points and Cole Sager right behind in second with 32 points.

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