Under the bright lights of Toronto’s International Center, the teams of Canada East waited at the starting mats, chalking up and narrowing their focus to earn a ticket to the CrossFit Games.
Contributing reporting from Dave Carr, Dominique Grimard, and Caroline Lambray
Under the bright lights of Toronto’s International Center, the teams of Canada East waited at the starting mats, chalking up and narrowing their focus to earn a ticket to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.
CrossFit Laval, the No. 1 seed coming into regionals, was dealt a devastating blow just three days ago: Veteran CrossFit competitor Isabelle Tardif, who finished third as an individual at the 2013 Regional, and sixth in 2012, broke her right hand while practicing handstand walks. The team is competing nonetheless.
Reebok CrossFit FirePower is aiming to snag a qualifying spot after finishing third in 2013. Veteran teams L’Usine CrossFit and CrossFit NCR are competing with some new faces. Former individual competitors Jay Rhodes, Tyler Kopacz, Lacey Van Der Marel and Ashley Werner anchor Outlaw North this year.
Meanwhile, newcomers like Pro1 Montreal and The MAC Pack feature many regional veterans and could land on the podium.
Dave Castro said if competitors wanted to make it to regionals, they had to have a muscle-up. Event 1 punished any weak links.
No teams in Heat 1 were able to complete the workout under the time cap, with muscle-up penalties and unfinished reps.
Outlaw North got off to a quick start and maintained a solid pace throughout, winning Heat 2 in 9:24 and showing the talent runs deep.
Heat 3 took to the starting mats amidst fans chanting “La-val! La-val! La-val!” But it was CrossFit FirePower who would be the first off the muscle-ups, followed closely by Pro1 Montreal and Physics CrossFit. Laval pulled ahead on the clean and jerks, getting its first male on the finishing mat at 2:17.
With the energy and excitement building, Physics CrossFit took the lead, with CrossFit Chambly on its heels. The two would fight until the bitter end, only separated by three reps of clean and jerks at the end.
Physics would cross the line first in a time of 10:22, followed by Chambly and FirePower. But Outlaw North maintained the fastest time.
With most teams on the finishing mats, the spotlight was on Tardiff, who completed her cleans and jerks with one arm. With each rep, she cleaned the barbell to her collarbone, took a breath, and popped it up, extending her one good arm into the sky, inspiring a throng of cheers from the stands.
“We are extremely disappointed because we legitimately think that we had a shot at winning Canada East,” said Matthieu Debruecq of CrossFit Laval. “We are a team in good times and a team in the bad times. We wanted to come and show that we will be stronger next year.”
“The events will be about what I can do with one arm,” Tardif said. “The rest of the team will do what they have to do, and I will go last. We’ll show what we are capable of and what we can do!”
Like Laval, Outlaw North is all about team.
“Realistically, one person makes the Games,” said Rhodes in reference to his decision to compete as a team this year. “I think we have just a great group of people, and we’re all really close. It’s a lot of fun to do this.”
Team Event 1 Results
1. Outlaw North (9:24)
2. Physics CrossFit (10:22)
3. CrossFit Chambly (10:39)
The teams walked onto the competition floor to the tune of the ominous “Star Wars Death March.” If the muscle-ups didn’t expose weakness, the athletes now had nowhere to hide with the highly technical hang squat snatches and handstand walks.
Heat 1 drew many dramatic hang squat snatch attempts, including some teams who rolled backward to get out of the way of the falling barbell.
The crowd started to see some bigger lifts in Heat 2, with Outlaw North dominating both the female and male lifts. Van Der Marel raised the bar for her team, both literally and figuratively. She hit 155 lb. with ease. Rhodes followed suit, dropping quickly under 225 lb., sticking the squat and standing triumphantly.
CrossFit Bytown also drew some attention, sporting nice, warm winter toques so their young children watching from the stands could spot them easily.
Heat 3 brought out the big guns, with the men from FirePower, Laval, and NCR all opening at 185 lb. Tardif drew cheers after notching a solid one-armed 55 lb. hang squat snatch.
CrossFit Physics was the first to up the ante, hitting 225 without difficulty. Dominic Trepanier of Pro1 Montreal followed with an impressive 260-lb. snatch.
The athletes moved on to put their gymnastics skills to the test. On the handstand walks, Alex Jeffrey of Driven would be the first athlete the hit the 120-foot mark, turning his handstand walk into a run and finishing well under the one-minute cap in Heat 1.
“I knew I had to go fast,” Jeffrey said after the event. “I just feel better moving fast so I don’t get timed out.”
Heat 2 saw impressive gymnastics skills from Outlaw North, with Van Der Marel leading the way yet again. Staying inverted with perfect technique, she reached the 120-foot mark, calmly spun on her hands and stepped onto the finishing mat to face her teammates. Rhodes, sporting a shirt that read, “Win Everything,” was just 10 feet away from completing an entire length of the floor.
“Lacey beat us in practice with her eyes closed,” Rhodes laughed.
In Heat 3, the first sets of athletes from each team raced to the finish in a pack, clearly putting some of their strongest walkers first in line.
But in the end, Physics pulled ahead, achieving a combined score of 580 feet. Pro1 Montreal took second, tied with CrossFit Laval despite the latter being down a hand.
Team Event 2 Results
1. Pro 1 Montreal (1125)
2. Physics CrossFit (1040)
3T. CrossFit Cambridge (1030)
3T. Deka CF Team (1030)
Team Event 3 Results
1. Physics CrossFit (580 feet)
2T. Pro 1 Montreal (475 feet)
2T. Équipe CrossFit Laval 1 (475 feet)
After Day 1, the top three teams have only a six-point spread: Physics CrossFit is in the lead, followed closely by Pro1 Montreal and Outlaw North.
1. Physics CrossFit (5)
2. Pro1 Montreal (8)
3. Outlaw North (11)
4. Tonic CrossFit (28)
5. CrossFit Kinetics (30)
6. CrossFit Cordis (31)
7. CrossFit Chambly (32)
8. Équipe CrossFit Laval 1 (34)
9. CrossFit NCR (34)
10. CrossFit Hybrid Competitive (37)