May 22, 2013
The Story in Canada East
By Chris Cooper, with Kate Rose

Though beyond the borders of the CrossFit homeland, Canada East athletes have their own brand of toughness borne of the harsh climate and rugged lifestyle.

There are no villains in CrossFit. But there are plenty of demons, hundreds of quests, thousands of stories. On May 24, Canadians to the East will have their chance to write their names in the Book of CrossFit.

Though beyond the borders of the CrossFit homeland, Canada East athletes have their own brand of toughness borne of the harsh climate and rugged lifestyle. Tan lines may not match our Southern California brethren, but knowledge is ubiquitous, and guts know no zip code.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet finished second worldwide in the Open, but beat Sam Briggs in head-to-head play on North American soil.

“It is going to be a blood bath. A lot more about capacity this year and mental toughness,” she says. “I’m preparing my food, my gear and I’m getting my nails done. I’m making sure I have everything I need.”

She’ll be ready.

In 2012, Jeff Larsh lost his golden ticket on a tiebreaker. He rested less than 48 hours before training for 2013.

He’ll be ready.

Michele Letendre won the hearts of the Canada East crowd at Regionals last year. She tasted California sunshine, swung the hammer, saw the winners crowned from only feet away.

“It's going to be harder for me this year,” Letendre says. “There are more weaknesses for me, but I've addressed them so it should be good!”

She’s also trying to keep some perspective.  

“I’m trying to focus on what's important: having fun during … but mainly after the workouts.”

She’ll be ready.

Paul Tremblay is looking forward to the overhead squat event.

“The overhead squat is going to be exciting to watch because of the seven-minute cap. We'll see a lot of guys hitting the same weight and then going for the tiebreak with seconds left. Since you can only go up 10 lb. per lift, no one will blow anyone out of the water,” he says. “I feel like Canada East is going to be one hell of a show. I can name you off the top of my head 15 guys who I feel legitimately have a shot.”

Tremblay is one of those 15. He’ll be ready.

Last year, Jay Rhodes entered the Regional ranked third from the Open. He walked away in eighth after a disappointing Event 4.

“The workouts seem a lot more balanced than last year, which I like,” Rhodes says.

He’ll be ready.

Jennifer Lymburner has been doing CrossFit for 14 months — barely longer than it takes a toddler to learn to walk.

“Going individual this year is a brand new experience for me, so I'm trying to embrace all of it,” Lymburner says. “Although it is, admittedly, intimidating going against some incredible athletes like Michele and Camille, I also see it as a great opportunity to push myself and really test where I'm at as a CrossFit athlete. Those girls will give me the extra push I need, that's for sure.”

Trusting in her training, she’s taking a break before Regionals, resting her wheels. She’ll be ready.

Stephanie Roy may not be the top-ranked female competitor, but she may well garner the most fan support. The 35th-place finisher in the Open was shot in the leg two years ago, breaking her left femur. Four surgeries later, she's among the top athletes in Canada East. When 100 pistols are required, she’ll be ready.

Matt Lefave clawed his way back from 38th to earn his spot at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games. He knows the ticket is his to lose. He’ll be ready.

CrossFit Select led the Open almost from start to finish. When the clock starts ticking at Regionals, they’ll be ready.

Charles Felx Leduc used to be a Strongman. Now he’s strong, fast and fit.

“To prepare for Regionals, I’ve done all of the events to get a feel for each. I also did a lot of volume in the last three weeks and one week of active rest,” he says. “With four days of good workouts, and some more active recovery days, it will be Regional weekend! Regionals … I am back.”

He’ll be ready.

Albert-Dominic Larouche made his second trip to the CrossFit Games in 2012. He won his first event with the Medball/HSPU Event.  

With just days to go, he says: “Regionals arrivent a grand pas! Je suis prêt!” (“Regionals are coming fast. I’m ready!”)

Few among the mishmash of hobbyists at the 2007 CrossFit Games would have predicted the epic rise of the sport. None would have dared dream that their names could sell T-shirts, appear in glossy magazines, or rise to the top of the Twitterverse. Their stories, set in the green hills of Aromas, are retold daily in gyms worldwide.

History has shown that the outsider can win, that an unknown can arrive without media’s trumpets, dry his palms in the California sand and move fastest.  

This weekend, hundreds will write their story. Some will peak here and their glory will be found in a personal best, a new record, or a heat won. Some, though, will go on to write another chapter.

One may win it all.