April 16, 2012
The Long View: CrossFit Laval
By Chris Cooper

"You can't screw up one event and think that the other teams will let you come back in."

CrossFit Laval has a plan.

Matthieu Dubreucq, a former world-class athlete, believes in long-term systems. He plans his programming, and the progression of his athletes, over years instead of months.

Finishing 11th at Regionals last year, CrossFit Laval's team features a mix of returners and rookies. Dubreucq's vision is to use the team competition to prepare his athletes for individual events, and that plan came to fruition this year, with two former team members qualifying for the individual category.

Isabelle Tardif, Jonathan Laniel, and Dubreucq himself will face down the competition as individuals. “Our goal is to make sure we expose as many people as we can to a higher level,” Dubreucq says. “We're really happy to have two new members on the team from last year; it's the first time at Regionals for them.”

The new faces add some diversity – and maturity – to the CrossFit Laval lineup. Steeve Dupree, age 40, is very strong in his lower body. A former National Team cyclist, Dupree has the leg power to drive through heavy lifts. Julie Nadeau is a newcomer, as is Tania Duczak.

Returning from last year are Camille St-Pierre and Félix-Antoine Demers. “Both were far from qualifying for individual last year, and they both finished just out of the top 60 this year,” Dubreucq says. “They improved a lot from last year, and the goal for them next year is to compete as individuals.”

On the women’s side, Virginie Tanguay is returning for her second run at Regionals on the CrossFit Laval Team. Qualifying 2nd in a tougher field than 2011, she's happy to be making the trip.

Their goal for 2012: compete on Day 3, as one of the top 10 teams in Canada East. “We don't have a goal of winning the Games as a team. We use the team to train for individual competition,” Dubreucq says. “Having both individuals and our team qualify for the Games isn't a realistic goal this year. Some affiliates really focus on the team, so they will keep all their good individual athletes. They'll be really hard to beat,” he adds, noting examples like L'Usine and Brossard.

No stranger to competition at the highest level, Dubreucq recognizes the need for programming differentiation between his individual athletes and his team. The individuals will increase their volume to prepare them for three gruelling days of events; the teams won't face that same obstacle. “They have to realize it's not about surviving the volume, but being able to peak at any event,” he says. “You can't screw up one event and think that the other teams will let you come back in. Individual competition is all about surviving. You don't have to win every event, because you can make up ground on others' weaknesses. You can't do that with a team, because other teams have all their bases covered.”

The experience of Regionals is critical for training motivation, Dubreucq stresses. “The younger guys will see how strong they'll have to be to compete at this level,” he says. “It gives them perspective and inspires them. Regionals will make them train super hard for next year, and help them reach their goals in 2013.”

More mental coaching for the team complements the wisdom of lessons learned in high-level sport. They have a sport psychology student work with the team every Monday night where hey talk about performance goals, instead of placement goals; PRs in each event, rather than the Leaderboard. At Regionals, the CrossFit Laval Team will stay together, eat together, and try to create what Dubreucq terms a “positive virus” within the group. “We carry a sickness of happiness. We'll do our best, and make adjustments for next year. We'll help each other stay on track,” he says.

That track is an upward one. Looking at the horizon, Dubreucq is virtually assured of success for CrossFit Laval in the future.