May 29, 2014
Finding a New Home at Backcountry
By Mandi Lo
This year, fans will be surprised to see Dozois and Conzelman competing with a completely different team: Backcountry Black.
This year, fans will be surprised to see Dozois and Conzelman competing with a completely different team: Backcountry Black.

This year, fans will be surprised to see Chris Dozois and Becky Conzelman    competing with a completely different team: Backcountry Black.


Photos by Robbie Wright

Chris Dozois and Becky Conzelman are both known as two of the incredible forces on the formidable Front Range CrossFit team, which has been competing in the Games since 2008.

This year, fans will be surprised to see Dozois and Conzelman competing with a completely different team: Backcountry Black.

Front Range has always performed well during the Open and at regionals, but seemed to consistently fall shy of the top spot at the Games, coming closest in 2011 with a second-place finish.

“Last year, we put in everything,” Dozois said. “After the Games in 2012, as a gym we all came together and said, ‘OK, we’re really making a run at 2013.’ We literally started training a week after the Games. We did all these things and we just fell well short of our goals.”

“We all kind of had the same thought,” he continued. “We seem to keep having the same performance at the Games. We’re really good at getting there, but then we seem to always have these fatal flaws that we can’t seem to fix.”

Dozois said he and Conzelman felt they needed more specialized training and individualized programming due to their ages and a need to balance life outside of training. Despite the success they achieved at Front Range, it was time for a change.

“They have a great family there,” Conzelman said of her former affiliate. “It’s just that they’re very systematic in the approach that they take to their gym. I absolutely loved training with Jody Miller. Leaving was not easy mostly because of that, but also because of our friendships. We had a fun crew that would work out together and feed off of each other there. I think we’re just developing that now with Backcountry and regionals about to start.”

Dozois and Conzelman toured and trained at different CrossFit affiliates before deciding Backcountry CrossFit was the right fit.

“It was an enlightening experience for me because I found that there really are two types of gyms: those like Front Range that operate under the philosophy that one robust program is sufficient for training all athletes of one caliber—and that completely works for them,” Dozois said. “Then there are other gyms that have open doors to athletes from all over the place and you get to share all these different experiences. It’s more of a collective type of coaching, and that works well, too.”

“We ended up landing at Backcountry CrossFit because the owners, Steve and Ashley Hartle, were really open to this concept and they had open hours where you can really do this type of programming,” he added.

Dozois expressed to Steve Hartle his desire to build a team of handpicked athletes from the gym, and the Hartles gave their full support. With a number of athletes with potential to do well, Dozois was able to put together a team of six solid athletes and two alternates.

“I feel very good about our team,” Dozois said. “Out of the top 10 in our region, we are the only team that only used (eight) athletes throughout the entire Open. I feel like we really represent as a team that will show up at regionals.”

The decision to join Backcountry CrossFit has seemed to pay off for Dozois and Conzelman. Backcountry Black finished the Open in sixth place.

With most of the original members of Ute CrossFit going individual this year, both Backcountry Black and Front Range are possible contenders for a top spot at the South West Regional.

“We want to beat them as much as we want to beat the rest of the teams,” Conzelman said.

Dozois added: “Becky and I wish them the absolute best and there are no hard feelings. We still have friends there and everything, but we absolutely want to beat them.” 

As for the rest of the competition, Dozois and Conzelman are confident their experience in competition will give them an edge, but with so many teams with new members, they are not sure what to expect.

 “It’s hard with teams because it’s not one individual where they get better each year and you can look at their track record,” Dozois said. “This is six people, and how they work together is an unknown. There may be a ‘Ute’ that we don’t even know about. There may be a team that just absolute communicates and hits each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so I can just say that I’m very confident that we have covered our bases, and that this team has the caliber that absolutely can go to the Games.”

“But I don’t know what we’re up against,” he added.

“We are just coming together this year and I would say we are prepared, but I would call this more of a testing year,” Conzelman said. “Doesn’t mean we aren’t going for the podium, because we are going for the podium.”