"I was just searching for a place where I could find different things I didn't have anymore with Team Canada."
For most competitive CrossFitters, balancing work and training schedules is a challenge. For Emmanuelle Blais, there is an added element of balancing an elite hockey career.
“It’s hard, but it’s fun,” says Blais, a former member of the Canadian National women’s ice hockey team, who is competing at Regionals this weekend with CrossFit Plateau.
The 25-year-old has played for the Montreal Stars in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) for the past three seasons. In that time, she’s won two Clarkson Cup Championships (the women’s equivalent to the Stanley Cup), adding to the two NCAA Frozen Four Championships she won with the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs while completing her bachelor’s degree.
“When I was done with the Team Canada program, my friend really wanted me to try (CrossFit). At first I was kind of scared – it looks crazy when you watch it on TV,” she says. “But, I tried it and I just fell in love with it – the people at the gym are so fun.”
A relative newcomer, Blais says when she started CrossFit just 11 months ago, she didn’t initially intend to become a competitor in the sport.
“In the first workout, I didn’t want to compete. I was just searching for a place where I could find different things I didn’t have anymore with Team Canada,” she says. “Talking with people, they thought I could compete. At some point, I just got excited, and here I am.”
Blais quickly found herself balancing CrossFit, working in accounting, and playing hockey all at the same time.
“During the season, I would go to the gym three to four times a week,” she says. “Once the season ended after the Clarkson Cup, I started going at 6 am with the team for about an hour before work.”
Only in her second CrossFit competition, Blais says she is excited to be competing at the Regional level and is happy to be part of the CrossFit Plateau team.
“It’s amazing, I’m so fortunate,” she says, adding that Michele Letendre frequently trains with the Plateau team and her twin sister, Ericka.
After completing the first leg of the first team event, Jackie, Blais said she just went at it full throttle.
“It’s kind of an event where you don’t have to think about anything. You just go. It was fun.”
As for the team’s goals for Regionals, Blais says they are just looking forward to the competition.
“We’re all very young in our CrossFit careers. We just want to have fun and do the best we can do. I think we have a pretty good team, and we have no expectations. We’re underdogs.”
As for what her future holds, Blais says she aims to complete the Level 1 Certificate Course, and is both humble and optimistic about her competitive career.
“I don’t know. I never would have thought I’d be able to come to Regionals. This is so amazing!” she says. “So, who knows what will happen with our team — we’re getting better everyday.”