"To me, there is no point in going to Toronto just to participate. Once I get there, I want to win."
This year, Jonathan Laniel’s goal is to win the Canada East Regional.
“To me, there is no point in going to Toronto just to participate. Once I get there, I want to win,” the 26-year-old says.
The former elite hockey player started CrossFit in 2009 and began competing a year later.
“I played hockey all my life as a goalie,” he says. “At 21, I quit completely and decided I wanted to become a firefighter. At the end of my first year of firefighting school, one of my teachers mentioned CrossFit. It took me a few months before I tried it, but I got hooked right away.”
In 2010, Laniel qualified for Sectionals in New Brunswick, but didn’t make the cut for Regionals.
“I had a blast, and not qualifying for Regionals made me (want to) go after it even harder,” he says.
“I was really happy,” Laniel says. “It showed me what I need to work on this year.”
Since then, he added more volume to his programming and has been focusing on his weaknesses: long running and gymnastics movements like handstand push-ups.
At last year’s Regional, Laniel made a huge comeback after placing 23rd on Diane.
“I had to (make a comeback), just like Matthew Lefave,” he says, referencing Lefave’s jump from 38th place after the first workout, to second overall.
Laniel has competed at local competitions, both as an individual and part of a team. He tries to get out of his comfort zone as much as he can and attributes much of his improvement to having a great training partner. Matthieu Dubreucq, who placed third at the Canada East Regional in 2011 and 12th in 2012, does most of the programming for the duo.
“We train together about 95 percent (of the time),” Laniel says. “Once in a while, I’ll add a little bit of gymnastics to my training, but other than that, I follow what he programs.”
Laniel feels confident heading into the Open.
“I’ve been working really hard all year and I just hope it pays off,” he says.
Now a full-time firefighter, Laniel says CrossFit has improved his performance on the job.
“Doing a 15-minute WOD is pretty much like when you’re the first on the scene at a house fire,” he says. “It’s an amazing job.”
When he’s not fighting fires, he’s coaching at CrossFit Laval. As the Open approaches, Laniel says he is most looking forward to the vibe in the gym.
“All of our members are going to do the Open, so we are going to see some cool PRs and get great performances from a lot of people,” he says. “That gets me fired up.”