In February 2013, Canada’s wheelchair curling team won their third world title with a nerve-racking 4-3 victory over Sweden at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships.
The Championships also served as the Test Event for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, and were thus held at the new Ice Cube Curling Centre.
Double Paralympic champions Canada were billed as the favourites, and after winning nine out of 11 matches, they easily booked their place in the final.
They would face Sweden for the world title – a team they had lost to 8-7 earlier in the tournament.
In the gold-medal match, Sweden tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth end but after a nail-biting seventh, Canada scored the winning point in the final end to top the podium once again.
Meanwhile, it was is the second year in a row that the Chinese team – skip Haitao Wang, Wei Liu (third), Qiang Zhang (second), Guangqin Xu (lead) and their alternate Jun He – took bronze at the World Championships.
Sonja Gaudet, who has been an integral part in all of Canada’s gold-medal successes, remembers the pressure from the gold-medal match like it was just yesterday.
“My first experience in Sochi was a great experience,” she said.
“The competition was so well organised and the venue so comfortable and accessible for us.
“Our final game against Sweden was tense and exciting to say the least. Both teams where throwing so well, and every shot was a key shot.
“Talk about being in the zone.”
Inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 2013, Gaudet will now seek her third Paralympic gold medal to go along with three World Championship titles (2009, 2011, 2013).
She is the only wheelchair curler in Paralympic history to have won two Paralympic golds.
Armstrong, Forrest, Rea and Morgan were all part of the team that won gold at the Vancouver 2010 Games with Gaudet in Vancouver, with Rea and Morgan having also been a part of the squad when wheelchair curling made its debut as a Paralympic medal sport at the Torino 2006 Games.
In addition to her three world titles, Canadian team leader Wendy Morgan said Gaudet has been vital to the development of the sport in Canada.
“Sonja has been on our team since the beginning and she has seen the evolution of our game first hand,” Morgan said.
“Sonja also is very involved in developing and conducting Introduction to Wheelchair Curling Clinics. Sonja recognises the opportunities and the fulfillment she has enjoyed as a result of being a part of the national team programme and is very willing to give back to our sport.”
Off the ice, Gaudet, 47, is raising two teenagers – Alysha and Colten – with her husband Dan. She is also a certified teacher’s assistant and hopes to work in schools once her athlete career is over.
Despite all that, she won’t be putting her curling broom down anytime soon.
“I have many goals and ambitions,” Gaudet said. “Some which include continuing to curl as long as it is possible and remains enjoyable.
“A time will come when curling competitively comes to an end, but I look forward to whatever life has in store for me.”