Nycolas Joyal’s Uncharacteristic Approach at the Atlas Games Lands him a Ticket to the CrossFit Games
“Stay in your lane.”
That’s what most Semifinals and CrossFit Games athletes say when you ask them about their strategy on any given workout. Ad nauseam.
But not Nycolas Joyal, who made a name for himself this weekend at the Atlas Games in Montreal, Quebec when he opened the competition with back-to-back event wins, eventually finishing fifth overall and punching his ticket to the Games.
Joyal’s winning approach: On any given workout all weekend long, Joyal’s head could be seen on a swivel, constantly looking at where other athletes were in his heat, waiting for the opportune time to pounce.
- During Event 1, Joyal kept his eyes on Pat Vellner and Jeff Adler, sticking just behind them for the large part of the workout, saving just enough in the tank to hang onto the final walking lunge, while Vellner and Adler dropped their bars.
- Event 2 was the same story: Joyal stayed within striking distance, but behind Vellner during the first three rounds of toes-to-bar and sandbag cleans, and then turned on the throttle in the final round, logging his second straight event win.
- But where his strategy paid off the most was during Event 5 on Sunday. Joyal entered the event in sixth place, just three points behind Austin Spencer in fifth, and 13 points ahead of Cedric Lapointe in seventh.
- Throughout the entire workout, Joyal deliberately paid close attention to where both Spencer and Lapointe were at all times, sticking close to them and ensuring he had enough in the tank to pull ahead at the end.
- “Yep, I kept looking at them during the whole event. Cedric went out real fast, so I was like, ‘OK, I’ll let him go for now,’ but I creeped back up during the second half,” Joyal said, adding that paying close attention to what athletes are doing doesn’t distract from his own focus, nor does it “screw my plan,” he said.
One big thing: Vellner and Brent Fikowski, who both live in the province British Columbia, might be the most well-known Canadian men in the sport, but the province of Quebec has long been a breeding ground for CrossFit Games athletes, including 2014 women’s Games champion Camille Leblanc-Bazinet.
- This year is now exception. Joyal, who lives just outside of Montreal in Quebec, will be joined in Madison, WI this summer by Vellner, as well as three other Quebecois men—overall winner Adler, Alexandre Caron (3rd) and Alex Vigneault (4th).
Worth noting: Joyal, who competed at both the 2017 and 2018 East Regionals, doesn’t even have a coach. Usually, he trains alone.
- “I have no coach. I’m self-taught,” said Joyal, adding that now that he has qualified to the Games, he will likely train with Vigneault here and there this summer.
- On whether he might consider hiring a coach now, Joyal smiled, shrugged and said: “Maybe. maybe.”