“I feel great about the Open this year. It was fun and hard at the same time. But I’m glad it’s done so I can focus on regionals.”
Albert-Dominic Larouche is ramping up for the Games. Every year, the ramp seems to start more slowly—and take him higher.
In 2012, he was 12th worldwide in the Open; in 2013, he was 37th; this year, he’s 92nd. But as his springtime performance appears to decline, his late-summer performance continues to rise as his expectations—and thereby his training plan—lengthen to focus on Carson, Calif. He finished 25th at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, and last year ended in 12th.
This year, he’s aiming for top five.
“I feel great about the Open this year,” Larouche said. “It was fun and hard at the same time. But I’m glad it’s done so I can focus on regionals.”
For the first time in three years, Larouche didn’t finish atop the Canada East Leaderboard in the Open. But it’s all part of the plan.
This long-view planning is riskier. He’s training with other top athletes, including Michelle Letendre, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Simon Paquette and Maxime Roy de Sylva. The latter is Larouche’s daily training partner and soon-to-be business partner at CrossFit ADM.
No slouch himself, de Sylva finished ninth in Canada East during the Open, and Larouche believes his constant presence will push both of them higher.
“He’s helping me to become a better CrossFitter in a lot of ways, and I hope I can give them some help also,” Larouche said. “CrossFit is about community, and we try to keep that aspect pretty strong.”
In the weeks preceding the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games, Larouche was true to this strategy, frequently posting training pictures and videos with Paquette and other regional athletes.
He was also practicing more marginal skills, like slack lining. This year, he’s taken his training outside more often.
“I want to incorporate more outside training and different sport activity,” he said. “I’m going to do some mountain climbing, mountain biking … I want to have fun and play more as soon as the snow is gone.”
He has big plans for the spring.
“My first goal is to win regionals,” he said. “My second is to be in the top five at the Games. Last year, my goal was to be in the top 10, and I was so close. I think that goal isn’t the right one for me. I need to put the expectation a little higher: Why not a podium?”
Growing up a hockey player in Quebec, Canada, Larouche has always carried a healthy sporting attitude into competition. He said he likes to helps other athletes, hangs out with his dad at regionals and is always amenable with the media. If his pace eventually distances him from other athletes, his personality pulls him closer, and Larouche is able to manage the pressure of perennial podium finishes thanks to his roots.
“The main goal is still to leave each competition step and say to myself that I couldn't have done better,” he said.
Though he’s cautiously optimistic about a return to the Games, Larouche knows the competition level is getting higher in Canada East—and everywhere else.
A lifetime Montreal Canadiens fan, Larouche quotes a line painted in the dressing room of the storied hockey team:
“Nos bras meurtris vous tendent le flambeau / À vous toujours de le porter bien haut.”
Translation: “From failing hands we throw the torch for you; always hold it high.”