The men’s and women’s gold medal-winning teams from the World Junior Curling Championships in Krasnoyarsk, Russia arrived home early Monday morning to a hero’s welcome.
Team Gauthier and Team Zacharias were greeted by scores of friends and family shortly after midnight at Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport, after spending the previous day and a half travelling.
“Coming down the escalator today was very breathtaking and very humbling for all of us,” skip Jacques Gauthier said.
“It’s been a long day, but I don’t know if any of us are tired after this reception.”
Dozens of people wearing red and white — some holding signs, others waving flags — wrapped the newly crowned champions in hugs upon their arrival.
“I can’t even tell you the amount of people that came up to me through the week wishing Jay and his team good luck, or asking how they were doing or patting us on the back,” Gaetanne Gauthier, Jacques’ sister, said. “It’s really nice for the boys — having not had a crowd cheering them on at the winning game— that they can come down here and see all the people that supported them at home.”
The arrival in Winnipeg marked an end to some 36 hours of travelling for the Canadians — who began their journey home at about 3 a.m. Sunday in Krasnoyarsk.
“It just feels like one big long day,” Mackenzie Zacharias, skip for the women’s team, said, “…just really excited to be here with this gold medal around our necks and just be able to say that we represented Canada really well.”
The women’s home club in Altona opened up the rink for a viewing of the gold medal game — with about 50 people turning up at 1 a.m. to watch the team capture the title. Many other fans also stayed up late following the men and women’s journey to victory — including Gauthier’s mother, Cathy.
“I’m so excited and proud and elated and all of the things a mum should be,” she said. “As an analyst, I would watch the games with that hat on and think ‘okay well he’s got to do this,’ and some of the shots that he called and made, I was thinking ‘oh boy buddy, you’re taking on a lot,’ but they just made them over and over again.”
After soaking in their respective victories, both skips will start preparing for even stiffer competition.
“After winning this event, we get to go to a Grand Slam, which is really exciting, so we get to go play against some of the pros in Olds, Alta.,” Zacharias said.
Meantime, Gauthier says he and his third, Jordan Peters, will be pursuing a pro career having wrapped up their time at the junior level.