Multiple medalist Mollie Jepsen among B.C. paralympians returning home
With 28 medals won, Canada had a record-breaking Winter Paralympics performance
The international arrivals area of Vancouver International Airport was packed full of family, friends, and fans Monday for the return of Canada's Paralympic athletes, with multiple medallist Mollie Jepsen leading the way.
The 18-year-old skier from West Vancouver won four medals at her first-ever Winter Games, including a gold in super combined standing, a silver in slalom standing, and a bronze in downhill standing and giant slalom standing.
"I don't think I've processed it fully," Jepsen said. "It was insane to hear the crowd at the top of the run and crossing the finish line and seeing the flag flying."
Jepsen's medal haul was part of a record-breaking performance by Team Canada at the Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The 55-member team — the largest winter delegation ever — won 28 medals, beating the previous record of 19 set at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
Jepsen pointed out the team had a strong performance outside of the top three too.
"I think everyone's super happy, not only because we got lots of medals, but because we got lots of top five, top 10 finishes," she said.
"It's been really successful for us."
'I'm so proud of him'
Along with Jepsen, nordic skier Ethan Hess, snowboarders John Leslie and Colton Liddle, and skier Alex Cairns arrived back in Canada Monday.
For family welcoming back the athletes, the pride and joy was palpable.
Arie and Elsie Dekleer, both 84, arrived at the airport an hour early to stake out the perfect spot to welcome home their grandson, Alex Cairns, 26, from Squamish.
"I don't know how to express it. I really don't. I think it's so exciting and I'm so proud of him," said Elsie Dekleer.
Cairns arrived in all smiles — despite some lost luggage.
"I'm home! I don't have anything to unpack, because it's all missing, but yeah — I'm stoked to be back and just ready to relax a little bit."
With files from Tanya Fletcher