OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS NATALIE AND MEAGHAN SETTLE FOR SILVER IN 'AMAZING RACE CANADA' FINALE
Despite dominating “The Amazing Race Canada” with seven first-place finishes, Olympic champions Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson had to settle for silver in the final leg.
“It’s very, very upsetting. You go into the finals and you obviously want to win . . . We’d done so well the entire ‘Race,’ and we never had a really terrible leg but it just seems like all our bad luck was saved for one day. Nothing went well for us,” says Meaghan.
Natalie and Meaghan, who earned a gold medal in women’s hockey at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, finished closely behind best friends Mickey Henry and Pete Schmalz on Sunday’s Season 2 finale in Ottawa. Co-workers Ryan Steele and Rob Goddard finished in third.
“As upset as we are though we couldn’t be happier for Mickey and Pete. They’re really great guys and they ran a really clean ‘Race’ that day,” says Meaghan.
The day got off to a bad start for Natalie and Meaghan, whose broken right hand is still healing, at a rafting challenge that required them to paddle across the Ottawa River.
“I had two things to think about in that ‘Race’ and it’s winning the ‘Race’ and battling through it, and then it’s my hockey career and my responsibility to Hockey Canada and my team. I didn’t want to push my hand to a point where I was going to have any permanent damage so I had to be smart with it,” says Meaghan.
“I was basically paddling with one hand at that point. I wasn’t using my right hand very much and I think that probably hurt us a bit.”
The team finished after Mickey and Pete, who is a river raft guide, and continued to stay just behind them through the next two challenges.
They ran into more trouble at a Roadblock that required one team member to ascend 60ft. up a glass atrium. Since Natalie had done the task of finding miniature cars at the Diefenbunker, Meaghan had no choice but to do the physically demanding challenge.
“Pulling myself across with one arm, that was really tough, and my hand was pretty sore. But we’ve been through a lot of difficult things and we’ve put our bodies through a lot of pain when it comes to training and in preparation for the Olympics this year, you push yourself to a point of mental and physical exhaustion. I knew what that felt like and I knew I needed to kind of push through,” says Meaghan.
The team managed to catch up to Mickey and Pete at the final challenge at the National Gallery of Canada -- arranging paintings of places they saw on the “Race” in the order they saw them -- but the carefree best friends finished the task before them once again and arrived at the Finish Line in first place.
“It was a bad day for us and it didn’t go our way but things happen for a reason and we raced our hardest the whole ‘Race’ and we had the best time ever, we had so much fun doing all these cool things,” says Natalie.
And even though they dominated the entire “Race,” Natalie and Meaghan admit that no one was more surprised than they were.
“We went into the first leg saying we just can’t get eliminated on the first episode. It would be so embarrassing. And then we won and we were like, ‘Wow I can’t believe that just happened’ and it seemed like every time we would walk away from Jon (Montgomery) and turn to each other and say, ‘Did that just happen?’” says Meaghan.
The team is very appreciative of all the support they’ve received from their fans and are hoping that their time on the “Race” will help inspire other young women and raise the profile of women’s hockey.
They will now return to playing for their respective club teams until the next Olympics and say this experience has made them closer than ever.
“I think it brought us a lot closer than either one of us would probably have expected. Now we talk every single day and Spooner is one of my best friends,” says Meaghan.