CALGARY – We know that Canadian curling fans were cheering on Kevin Koe’s Alberta rink, as they took gold over Denmark in the World Men’s Curling Championship Sunday morning.
But one woman at home in Guadalajara, Mexico was cheering just as loud. Gabriela Fernandez just might be curling’s biggest fan.
For most Canadian curling fans, standing on pebbled ice is just second nature. Some have grown up on it, others have made careers on it.
But never has the simple touch of it brought out the kind of emotion Fernandez showed when she first touched the ice.
“Touching the ice was the most incredible thing that has happened to me in my whole life,” Fernandez said. “As soon as I went out of there I went into the bathroom and started crying, because I couldn’t believe it.”
Fernandez is one of curling’s biggest fans you’ll ever meet – and she lives in Mexico.
She discovered the sport 17-years-ago in an apartment she was renting, that happened to have Canadian satellite TV.
“I was flipping through channels and came across this strange game,” said Fernandez.
After falling in love with that game, it became her goal to see it in person. Then it was announced the Continental Cup was coming to Las Vegas.
“I can go, I can go to Las Vegas. I can go. I can go. So I started saving for a whole year,” Fernandez said.
Then this past January, she returned to Vegas but this time, she got to meet some of her favourite curlers.
“Incredible, I cannot find another word for it,” said Fernandez.
“You know when you talk to all the people who love the game as much as we do as players and the broadcast team and everything. To see someone who does that to come watch a game of curling and they enjoy it that much, it was really a great thing to see,” said Cheryl Bernard, an Olympic curling silver medallist.
The dream isn’t over though, the curling community – now fans of her, are coming together to bring her to Edmonton for next year’s World Championship.
“I don’t think she realizes what a world’s (curling championship) in Canada will be like, she’s going to get the full Canadian experience,” Bernard added.
“It’s a matter of taking a crazy Mexican that loves curling to realize her dream,” said Fernandez laughing.
To top it all off, Sunday just happens to also be her birthday, which coincidentally also happens to fall during the World Curling Championship next year.
“I’m going to be 73-years-old in Edmonton, and I’m going to celebrate with them. It’s a way of me, thanking them. I want to spend my birthday with them,” said Fernandez.