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Riga 2013: Steph for The Curling News

[Team Canada’s Rachel Homan and Co. are in Riga, Latvia, for today's start of the world women’s curling championship. The Co. includes Stephanie LeDrew, team alternate, who is also serving as a contributor here at The Curling News Blog. Check our blog page throughout the nine-day competition as Steph tells the tale of a young team on a grand adventure!]

by Stephanie LeDrew

Welcome to Frankfurt. Ugh.

Welcome to Frankfurt. Ugh.

RIGA, Latvia – If you could pick anyone on earth to be stranded with in a crowded airport in a foreign country for 32 hours, who would it be?

Okay, it can’t be Brad Pitt or Beyonce. Or your husband, or wife, or some great thinker from history. I could actually list a huge number of people it couldn’t be, and still I don’t think anyone out there would pick their curling team first. Well guess what? They’re probably not a bad choice. Any championship team will tell you that one of the big secrets to success is great team dynamics – we hear that term thrown around all the time, but what does it mean? It’s not just four people getting along and sharing similar opinions. It’s the ability to come together in adversity to create results – on and off the ice.

As it turns out, Team Homan can do that. Very, very well. In fact, I’ve never seen anything like these six people handling a horrific situation so well and with such incredible attitudes.

Picture this: You’re flying overnight to a timezone six hours ahead, you don’t sleep on the plane due to the efforts of a serial seat-kicker behind you, then you find out your last flight will be delayed one hour... then another... then another... until it’s finally cancelled. Then they close the airport.And this is just the beginning.

Next, you’re assigned to a stand-by flight departing five hours later. Then they cancel THAT flight. Then you’re put on another stand-by flight 12 hours later (the next morning) and when you call around to find a hotel room for the night, you find there’s none available in the city due to the number of stranded travelers. So you sleep across four gate seats in the airport all night, hoping no one steals your passport while you sleep, so really you don’t sleep at all.

The next morning, you find out you’re 55th on the stand-by list and there’s no chance you’re getting a seat – so you stand in a miles-long lineup, prepared to buy ANY seat on ANY flight that will get you to your final destination, at ANY COST.

At what point during this ordeal would you have pulled out all your hair, developed a stomach ulcer and began to harbor an intense hatred for anyone around you who looks rested or comfortable or holds a confirmed seat on a flight? To be honest, it started for me at the second seat-kick... but as we progressed through this seemingly endless adventure together, I was in awe of the ability of my fellow teammates to handle adversity with humour, logic, and optimism. Don’t get me wrong, we had our moments, but we came out of it a stronger team than ever before. Everyone seemed to settle into certain roles that they filled well (much like we do on the ice). Some would stand in ticketing lineups to work on the next flight possibility. Others would go on food runs. Others would crack jokes and keep the mood light – but the complaints were at a minimum. We kept each other sane. We supported one another with the mantra that This Too Shall Pass... and the next thing we knew, we were in Riga.

Now that we’re at our final destination, we’ve gotten some practice under our belts, adapted to the time change, done some sightseeing and had some laughs, we’ve all but forgotten the Frankfurt Airport Disaster of 2013 – now, we are simply Team Canada. We’re at the start of the most exciting week of our lives. We carry the Maple Leaf on our backs, and I carry forward a newfound and unbreakable confidence in the ability of this team to rally together.

Bring on the fight – we’ve got this.

[Photo by Team Homan]