April 8, 2013
Week Five in Review: Canada West
By Chris Cooper
"Well, here's to surviving the five weeks of anticipation, stress and hard work!" Alicia Connors is having her best year of CrossFit...
"Well, here's to surviving the five weeks of anticipation, stress and hard work!" Alicia Connors is having her best year of CrossFit...

"Well, here's to surviving the five weeks of anticipation, stress and hard work!"


Alicia Connors is having her best year of CrossFit yet. After finishing first in the Canada West Region, Connors is primed for Regionals. She finished sixth at the Oval in 2012, and has her eye on the podium this year.

"Well, here's to surviving the five weeks of anticipation, stress and hard work," she says succinctly. "At least we didn't have to do seven minutes of burpees!"

Connors took the pole position on 13.4 and held on through the final week, but Emily Beers and Angie Pye are in the hunt and none of the three can take a trip to Carson, Calif., for granted.

Heather Gillespie finished 10th in the region in 2013, but will be eager to return to the Games.

Jolaine Bloom finished ninth, but posted the top score in Canada West on both of the last two Open workouts. Bloom will have the option to compete as an Individual or take the nonstop flight to the Games in the Masters competition. She finished eighth in the world in Masters Women 40-44.

Mark Cassibo led the Men’s competition in Canada West from week two until the end. His coach and training partner, Nate Beveridge, finished seventh, and their team, the Fraser Valley Centaurs, held the top score in every Open event except one. Their second team — Hybrid — also qualified for Regionals.

"We are super excited to have qualified two teams for the Regionals this year," Beveridge says. "As cool as it was to qualify the Centaurs first overall and have Mark Cassibo win the Men's division, we are most proud of the athletes on our second team who managed to qualify on their own without the help of the top nine scorers in our gym, who were all on the Centaurs team. It is a testament to the quality of athletes that we have here at Hybrid Athletics. It is going to be an awesome experience to have so many athletes competing together and our community is going to come out in full force to support us all."

Second overall was Jason Cain, a familiar face at the Games (he won Canada East in 2011.) Cain's team, CrossFit 306, also qualified in sixth place, and Cain's goal has been to qualify for the Games from the start.

"I thought the Open (workouts) were some of the best ones yet," Cain says. "Very consistent and true to CrossFit. My training will stay consistent going forward. My WODs will continue to be Games-level (workouts) — heavy and technical. My biggest change from last year has been in my weight. With the help of Beyond Yourself Nutrition I've been able to gain six pounds of lean muscle. That doesn't sound like much, but it's made a huge difference in my game. My capacity has stayed the same, but I've been able to add 30 to 40 lb. to all my major lifts. Plus, I competed in Olympic lifting comps through the last eight months. I qualified for Nationals, and won bronze at the Western Canadians Championships."

In the Masters categories, Scott Tasaka dominated Men's 40-44 Division, never finishing lower than second in the region.

Nancy McKeage joins Bloom and Jennifer Dober in qualifying for the worldwide competition in July for the Masters Women 40-44 Division. Jenn Swagar narrowly missed the Masters cut, but can still compete as an Individual at Regionals.

"I would like to say that from a coach's point of view, this year was a great platform for my young athletes," Swagar, owner of CrossFit MOST, says. "My gym has only been open six months. They have now been humbled by the Open and have great goals for next year. The energy and desire is amazing."

She adds: "As an athlete, it has been a bit of a roller coaster. It has shown me that I can compete with the best, but that I still have huge holes in my game. I have decided to actually get coached and train for me. I have not done that before. I am excited for that. I hope to get a team into Regionals next year. (CrossFit) MOST has some great athletes — ex-Dino football players that have so much raw power, they just need some overall CrossFit training."

We'll look for a team from CrossFit MOST in 2014.

Murray Howes went undefeated in the Open, scoring first in every event in Canada West, but not qualifying for the Games as a Masters athlete or for Regionals as an Individual.

Likewise, Laurie Meschishnick topped Masters Women in Canada West with only eight points, but missed a trip to the Games by finishing just one spot shy of qualifying.

Gord MacKinnon topped the world scoreboard for the Masters Men 50-54 Division, and will be looking to take another title in July. Stephanie Needham (Masters Women 55-59) squeaked in with a rank of 19th worldwide.

The Canada West Regional will be one of the toughest-fought. Renowned as one of the friendliest group of female competitors, fans will be treated to an epic throwdown with classic CrossFit flavor: smiles and gritted teeth.