When it comes to competition, they're arguably the most successful box in Canada West.
CrossFit Taranis has had athletes at the CrossFit Games every single year since it moved from the ranch to Carson, California in 2010.
Alicia Connors and Angie Hay both competed twice as individuals; Angie's 10th place finish in 2011 has yet to be matched by another Canada West athlete of either gender. Meanwhile, Team Taranis' bronze medal in 2011 is the only medal ever won by a Canadian team at the CrossFit Games. Most recently, in 2014, Taranis coach Reed MacKenzie coached the Canadian team to a silver medal at the prestigious CrossFit Invitational, behind only the Unites States.
CrossFit Taranis looks poised to continue their success this year, especially considering two-time individual CrossFit Games competitor Tyson Takasaki is back in Victoria, B.C., after having competed for CrossFit 204 in Winnipeg for the last three seasons.
While it's assumed Takasaki will attempt to return to the Games for a third straight year as an individual, the Team remains in good hands.
One of their quietly powerful athletes is Jackie Snell.
Snell has competed at the CrossFit Games twice with Team Taranis, and has rapidly risen through the ranks to the point that she’s as good as any of the team's other female athletes.
Snell attended the 2012 Canada West regional competition as a spectator and remembers being “blown away” by Angie and Alicia’s level of fitness.
“After watching them, I figured the best way to become great CrossFit (athletes) like them was to do whatever they were doing, so I joined Taranis,” she said.
Three years later, Snell finds herself competing alongside the two women who inspired her in 2012, and although Angie now calls Snell a “complete package” CrossFit athlete, Snell said she still feels humbled on a daily basis.
Everyday, I am challenged to be at my best
“Everyday, I am challenged to be at my best,” said Snell, a former soccer player at The University of Victoria.
Although CrossFit is often seen as a predominantly individual sport, Snell is much more comfortable competing with a team.
“My teammates bring out the best in me and push me past my perceived limits,” she said. “I think that it is more rewarding to accomplish a goal with others and to be able to share that victory over doing it alone.”
She added: “I really value leadership and the roles that come with being on a team. When you compete individually, you have to be all those roles at once for yourself, and I am not mentally ready to take that on yet.”
So she will join Team Taranis’ 2015 quest to return their team to the CrossFit Games for a sixth straight year.
One of the things they will rely on this year is their unmatched experience. Watching them compete, it’s instantly obvious they know each other very well. They work together as well or better than any other team on the floor.
But possibly their most valuable asset is the fact that they know what it feels like to be at the CrossFit Games. They’ve found a way to qualify every year since 2010.
“Competing at the Games is so many things,” Snell said. “It’s the hardest physical thing I have ever done. It’s empowering having thousands of CrossFit fans screaming and cheering. It’s also so much fun. Outside of the stadium, we laugh and have so much fun together as a team. Inside the stadium, it’s nervous laughter, but we are still laughing and trying to enjoy the moment.”
One of the scariest moments for Snell in 2014 was when Dave Castro posted a hint about a beach event.
“I signed up for swim lessons within an hour and tried to learn to swim almost every day leading up to the Games,” Snell said. “At the Games I was still terrified and spent most of the event kicking from the top of the rescue board we had to use. It was our worst finish at the Games, and I played a huge reason as to why,” she said.
This swim weakness she experienced last year only made Snell determined to improve. She has continued to take swimming lessons once a week all year and now finds it to be a great recovery tool.
This tenacity to improve her weaknesses is what Snell considers to be her greatest strength as an athlete. This, and her mental game.
She will need her mental game when she lines up against the top teams from both Canada West and the North West in hopes of earning one of five available berths to the 2015 CrossFit Games. Snell knows it won’t be easy, but she’s confident in her team.
“I really do believe our team has the capability to be top five,” she said. “Our goal in the past has always been to win regionals, and this year I don’t see it being any different.”