— by Tania Tétrault Vrga

Last weekend marked our seventh year organizing and hosting the FrostFit Games. From its humble beginnings at our first location on Des Meurons, it has grown into a two day, 180 athlete extravaganza, complete with over 50 volunteers and dozens of sponsors and vendors. FrostFit, and other local competitions have evolved to fill the void that was left when the CrossFit Games grew into what it is today. When I started CrossFit, there was no Open, no Regionals, anyone could go to California for the CrossFit Games.  I went to the Games in 2009, the year we opened CrossFit Winnipeg, with a team of four from CrossFit Winnipeg and we placed in the middle of the pack.  That year, the Games were at “The Ranch” in Aromas, not in a stadium. It was dusty and hot and there was no special area for athletes, everyone mingled with everyone else. We had a great time, and we decided to host our own competition, so that our members could get a taste of what we had experienced at the ranch… and FrostFit was born.

A lot has changed since then. The writing was on the wall, I knew that my experience at the 2009 Games was fleeting and that it would never be the same again. I knew that as the sport of fitness would grow, so would the pool of athletes, and the competition bar would be raised. Every year and it becomes tougher and tougher to make it to the Games. Today, most of us, including those of us who went to the Games 6 years ago, can only dream of making it to Regionals, let alone the Games. And so we’ve made it our business to make sure that at some level, our sport is still accessible to everyone. FrostFit has now filled that competition gap, providing a platform for everyday fitness enthusiasts at a local community level. My hope is that our athletes and athletes all over Manitoba will draw inspiration and motivation from FrostFit.

There are so many people to thank.  An event like FrostFit doesn’t just happen.  It is planned out meticulously for months, and requires the coordination and cooperation of at least 50 people, and all the lessons learned from the previous years of experience.  Thank you to all our volunteers, this includes judges, equipment crews, gophers, volunteers who rounded up the athletes, volunteers who ran our canteen, volunteers who stocked toilet paper and organized coats and boots, volunteers who manned registration and prepared the athlete prizes and swag bags.  We could not have done it without you. The judges deserve a special thank you, it is an exhausting, thankless job and you guys were pros. Thanks for all your hard work! Special thanks to my mom, who put in many 16-hour days, fed and organized the volunteers, and handled all the scoring.  Thanks to my husband, who spent the entire weekend out in the freezing cold managing parking, along with my dad.  It’s a shitty job, and you don’t even get to see the action, but someone’s got to do it. And of course, thanks to our coaching staff who programmed and tested events, contacted and organized judges and volunteers, handled the gym and equipment set-up, recruited sponsors and vendors, and filled in on the mic and as extra judges over the weekend. In particular, I’d like to express my thanks to Anna, who took the lead on programming and general organization, along with my mom, as well as Ren, who always seemed to be there to help when I found myself at the gym at some ungodly hour trying to finish up the last minute details.  You guys made a fantastic team, and I can only hope you’ll still be willing to be involved next year, because I don’t know if I can handle the idea of facing this alone next year…

Last but not least, I would like talk about all our athletes who had the courage to put themselves out there and compete. We set out to make this competition a fun community event and we hope that you were challenged and inspired.  It is a brave thing to compete and to give it your all, even when you know that your best might not be enough to win, and to do it anyway to the best of your ability. In particular, I want to tell our own CFW members how proud I am of the grace and graciousness you displayed. Our athletes showed a quality of movement and a level of sportsmanship that exceeded my expectations as a coach. There was no sign of ego, never any indication of the dark side of competition. You made me want to compete again…

In the Men’s Rx category, we had a team composed of Justin and Mike.  These two were especially fun to watch, such character and grit, couldn’t help but cheer for them. Also in the Men’s Rx category, we had Steve competing with Chris from Shinobi.  It’s not easy competing with someone you don’t regularly train with and Steve was the picture of intensity and virtuosity. Gentlemen, congrats on making the switch to Rx, and on a great weekend overall!

In the Women’s Novice category, we had three teams. I believe this was a first competition for Joanie and Lori and it was amazing to see how you came together as a team, even though you barely trained together. I hope this will be the first of many. I also want to send a shout out to Holly and Tanis. I loved seeing them push themselves, particularly in the weightlifting portion, on which I’ve had the pleasure to coach them in recently. Next up, Manitoba Open weightlifting meet! We also had a few teams who had competed before, including Jen and Stephanie, who placed second in their division, and were an inspiration to see in the final event, even though we had a bit of a snafu with the rower. (PS: I checked out the numbers and it wouldn’t have made a difference in the final standings either way). We saw Jen do her first chest to bar pullups and they lifted weights for reps that were close to their maxes.

For the men’s non-rx category, we had two teams. The first was Matt & Jedd, who came together after their original partners sustained injuries. I loved the intensity and positivity with which they approached each event.  Also in men’s non-rx, we had a masters team made up of Rico and Jamie, who had one of the best team names of the entire competition “Drinkers with a CrossFit Problem”.  You guys held your own against competitors who were half your age. I loved watching you guys! Longtime CFW member and Top Notch coach Val also competed in the Masters category and took home the top Masters position, congrats Val!

I’m sure I have forgotten someone, and my apologies to anyone I have forgotten to mention or for any information that I might have gotten wrong! On the the next adventure…