Whistler athlete just shy of CrossFit Games 

Steve Howell places fourth in Canada West Regional competition

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For three days, CrossFit athletes from across Western Canada went head-to-head in a series of six gruelling physical challenges, testing everything from strength to endurance to how much lactic acid you could load into your muscles before you're finished - one way or another.

For three years, Whistler's Steve Howell has competed for a chance to go to the international CrossFit Games in California, the last two years coming just short of qualifying. In 2010 he was seventh in Canada, with only the top six going to the finals. This year he placed fourth overall in Western Canada out of 43 competitors, with only the top-two advancing.

"Last year was frustrating because it was so close," said Howell. "This year I'm a little bummed out that I didn't make it, but I'm definitely pleased with my performance. I did what I wanted to do. My results were at the top, but just based on the scoring system I didn't make it.

"Otherwise, I think I could debate that I could have been one of the top-two fittest in the competition."

In the final analysis, Howell finished with 33 points, missing the top two by just three points.

Far from being discouraged, Howell said he's only more determined to get to the Games next year.

"It's my number one goal, to make the CrossFit Games," he said. "That's what motivates me to get to the gym five or six days a week.

"That's what I'm pushing for. I won't stop until I make it there."

Jordan Glasser, coach and owner of Whistler CrossFit, said that Howell is one of the most determined athletes he's ever worked with.

"It's insane," he said about the difficulty level of the competition. "The average person can't even complete the workout. Even a fit person couldn't do it. And out of the 60 males that were qualified to go, not all of them even went to the nationals because they were afraid or they couldn't do it. The top 60 have to be incredibly fit, just to make it, but even the top 40 through 60 are not at a level where they're ready to compete against the top guys. It's really challenging."

It's also potentially lucrative, with $1 million in cash prizes for the top athletes in every category.

To qualify, the CrossFit Games sends out a list of challenges to participating CrossFit gyms around the world, and athletes that want to go to the Games do the workout with their coaches timing and taking video. Up to 25,000 will take part in the qualifier and the top athletes after the qualifier are invited to compete in the regionals.

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