Mat Fraser Talks Programming First Full Competition: “Everything came out perfectly, it was so much fun”

Photo Credit: Steffi Dipp (@sdippanico)

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CanWest Games organizer Mike McLean thought he might be throwing a Hail Mary when he reached out to five-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser last fall to see if Fraser and his company HWPO Training would program the CanWest Games.

To McLean’s surprise, HWPO’s CEO Matt O’Keefe responded to the email almost immediately—at 11 PM no less—and before McLean knew it, the five-time champ’s company had agreed to program all 35 divisions at the 725-athlete competition that was held last weekend just outside of Vancouver in British Columbia.

Fraser’s reason for taking on a relatively small, yet re-emerging event in British Columbia was simple: “It was such a great opportunity to program a full three day competition,” Fraser told the Morning Chalk Up in an exclusive interview at the CanWest Games on Sunday.

A great opportunity and a learning experience for Fraser, as it was HWPO’s first time programming a full competition that included various divisions.

“It’s such a process. It’s a lot more involved than I expected, because it’s not just, ‘Alright, here are the tests that we want.’ It’s what equipment is available? What stages are available? How many competitors? How is it scalable?”

When asked if the experience gave him more of an appreciation for what programming the CrossFit Games must he like, Fraser said that he has “always had an appreciation for people that program competitions, because, and I have always said this, there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes. There are so many moving parts. There are so many different things, the different divisions, the stages, the timing,” he said.

“When you see a competition and something doesn’t go on schedule, I have always looked at it like, “Oh, I wonder what’s going on that we don’t know about?’…I want to know what chaos is going on behind the scenes,” Fraser added.

While the logistics of programming a three-day competition might cause some to shy away from the task, it’s a challenge Fraser wants more of.

In fact, programming more competitions in the CrossFit space is one of his companies’ goals, Fraser explained, and eventually they used CanWest Games as “the test run” for the future—a test run Fraser couldn’t have been happier with.

“Everything came out perfectly (at the CanWest Games),” Fraser said. “It was so much fun. The amount of positive feedback we have been getting from the athletes has been very encouraging.”

Coming up soon for Fraser is the Madrid Championship in Spain in September, a competition with 2,400 athletes and a €170,000 prize purse—including €30,000 for the individual winners—where Fraser and his HWPO team will be taking on all of the programming.

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