Mat Fraser, CrossFit Games Stars on Hand at the CanWest Games this Weekend
After a two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, the CanWest Games just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia are back this weekend with new owners and five-time Fittest Man on Earth Mat Fraser, who programmed the event that features a roster of big name athletes.
Remind me: The CanWest Games were slated to be a Sanctional in the lead up to the 2020 CrossFit Games, but were canceled due to the pandemic both in 2020, and then again 2021.
- Things were looking bleak that the event would ever return, but CrossFit enthusiast Mike McLean was determined to keep it going, so he, along with EJ Dockery and Ben Siepermann acquired the rights from the former owners to use the name for their event.
- What happened next, however, was an unfortunate series of events for McLean, as disgruntled athletes who had paid their registration fee in 2020 but never got to compete, took to social media demanding refunds that McLean wasn’t able to give, as he simply took over the name, but wasn’t given access to any past registration details, financial records or cash.
- McLean could have thrown in the towel because of the misguided heat that was slung at him, but he did just the opposite. He committed himself to making the new CanWest Games bigger and better than ever.
The CanWest Games 2022 Details: This year’s CanWest Games, which runs this Friday to Sunday, at Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam, British Columbia features 32 divisions—including 24 elite men and women, as well as Rx, scaled, male-female pairs and various masters divisions—with a total of 725 competitors slated to compete.
- The big names on the men’s elite side include Games athletes Chandler Smith, Alec Smith and Elijah Muhammad, as well as up-and-comers Jack Farlow and James Sprague, while the women’s side features Semifinals athletes Alison Scudds, Jessi Smith and Karisa Strapp, and up-and-coming fan favorite Anikha Greer.
Worth noting: Spectators will have the chance to sign up for various movement seminars throughout the weekend, including Olympic lifting seminars, where HWPO coaches, and Mat Fraser himself, will be on hand to offer tips.
- Other educational seminars open to the public include rowing clinics with Olympic gold medal rower Lisa Roman, gymnastics clinics with highly touted coach Louise Eberts, nutrition seminars with Tactic Nutrition owner and Games athlete Meredith Root, as well as nervous system and mobility clinics.
Hard Work Pays Off, Indeed: McLean explained that landing Fraser and his company HWPO at his event came down to believing in the event even when others didn’t, and being willing to work his ass off every step of the way.
- “Part of it is me being a dreamer. I was watching a Morning Chalk Up show and it was breaking down the Rogue Invitational and I turned to my wife and said, ‘I wonder if we could get Mat to program our event…So I contacted Matt O’Keefe at 8 p.m. pacific time, and he got back to me right away saying, ‘That sounds like a great idea,’” McLean said, adding, “they have been amazing to deal with.”
- The same was true of bringing on elite athletes who just missed qualifying to the Games this season. “I started reaching out to athletes in April, but I knew (a lot of them) wouldn’t be able to commit until after Semifinals, and it’s a delicate process, but I did a lot of legwork building relationships with managers and agents and it paid off,” McLean said.
The big picture: Considering where McLean was just eight months ago—dealing with an angry sea of CrossFit athletes as he tried to resurrect a dead event—he couldn’t be more excited with what he has lined up in British Columbia this weekend.
- “When we first sat down, we carved this vision for this to be a world class event in Vancouver, and I don’t think sponsors I approached or people in the industry necessarily believed me. So it was a huge challenge getting support, and the early controversy made it even harder, but we have slowly been gaining interest and support from the community again, and that has been one of the more rewarding aspects,” he said.
- He continued: “We have heard from so many gyms lately who say the energy in their gym is so palpable right now. They have all this excitement about our event, which has been great.”
“Our goal is to make the CanWest Games like the Wodapalooza of the pacific northwest.”