Plane crash doesn’t keep Lang from Brier Cup

Rick Lang during a practice at the 2020 Brier Cup in Kingston, Ontario. Photo: Dylan Chenier

The last two weeks for Northern Ontario’s Rick Lang have been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. 

Last week, while coaching Krista McCarville’s rink at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Lang’s daughter Sarah Potts gave birth to twin boys. 

While Lang was busy coaching the Thunder Bay squad to a fourth-place finish at the national women’s championship, it was difficult to keep his mind off of daughter Sarah and grandkids Cohen and Leo. 

To add to the emotional stress of the affair, Potts had gone into labour nearly two months ahead of schedule. 

“That really affected me that week, I was so looking forward to getting home,” Lang said. 

Being thousands of miles away from the arrival of his first-born grandchildren was not the only difficult event for the veteran curler. On Monday evening, Lang’s flight home was involved in a serious incident after it crashed on take-off in Dryden, Ontario.

“As we were taking off in Dryden, the plane took a sudden veer toward the snow,” said Lang as he recounted Monday night’s events, from which he is “grateful to be alive.” 

Simply veering off the runway on takeoff can be a very serious incident, but as Lang recalls, damage to the propellers made for a violent scene inside the aircraft. 

“What we think happened is that… the propellers we think hit the ice and started shattering.” 

Lang, who was sitting in the front seat of the plane, had debris hit him from both propellers as they punctured the cabin. 

“I ended up in (the emergency department) with pieces of… the propeller in my hand,” Lang said. “There was wood that came flying through, all the windows were blown out, there [were] holes in the fuselage, and I had two pieces of lumber on my lap.” 

Lang suffered some injuries to his right hand, which was wrapped in bandages as he spoke to members of the media on Saturday afternoon. 

Just five days after the harrowing crash, Lang is back where he feels most comfortable: coaching Northern Ontario at a national curling championship. The three-time Brier winner is hoping this week’s competition will provide a much-needed distraction. 

“I am a curler, I’m a competitor. I think once we start throwing rocks I’ll be thinking about that and be able to move on.” 

The crash triggered an outpouring of support from the curling community, something Lang is grateful for.

“It’s been tremendous support. It’s really great to hear from those people and get those messages, and it’s been good for all of us to get those wishes.” 

This weekend in Kingston Lang will seek to guide Brad Jacobs’ Sault Ste Marie rink to their second Brier title. The 2014 Olympic Gold Medal winning skip enters this week’s competition ranked number-one in the world. 

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