Clark first went straight to her family, hugging her mom, dad and siblings before turning to her friends and fans.
Young female hockey players – especially the entirety of the Saskatoon Stars hockey team, which had just won against rivals Prince Albert – stood in their jerseys with posters and hockey props, waiting for pictures and a chance to see Clark’s gold medal, draped proudly around his neck against his red Lululemon uniform.
“There are so many emotions running through my mind, it’s hard to put into words,” Clark said when asked about the feeling of being back in her hometown.
“Honestly, I think this is the first time it feels real. To be back in Saskatoon, seeing friends and family and sharing this with them…it feels real now and it’s just super special.
Prior to Clark’s arrival, Stars players Halle Helperl and Marisa McClocklin said they were thrilled to see Clark walk through the doors.
“Just to welcome Emily home because some of us know her personally, but she’s also an alumnus of the Stars, so we’re just welcoming her home, hope she’s feeling good,” said said Helperl.
“She’s a big part of women’s hockey, so we want to welcome her and support her,” added McClocklin.
“It’s inspiring to see them here, it really is,” remarked Tracy Clark, Emily’s mother, acknowledging the surreal feeling of seeing so many girls come out to support her daughter after her Olympic performance.
Clark’s mother said her daughter had always been nice to young girls who looked up to her and recalled her daughter “fangirling” in front of her Canadian hockey heroes.
“She always did (dreams of going to the Olympics)… She always worked so hard and she was always the driver,” Tracy said, recalling the summer Clark decided she wanted to. trying to work out instead of vacationing by the lake.
“I think we were always excited for the next challenge,” Tracy recalled.
After spending weeks with only FaceTime and WhatsApp exchanges, Tracy was ready to spend time with her daughter.
“I really just want to give him a hug and the emotions, I think we’ve been holding them in. We haven’t been able to sleep. We’re just on a high,” she shared.
“(It’s) more emotional than I thought…because we couldn’t be with her…We were getting texts at three in the morning because that’s when she wakes up.”
For Clark, her Olympic experiences — aside from the color of her medals and the masks and COVID tests required this time around — were more similar than she thought.
She missed opportunities to see her family on her competitive days, but said there were benefits to being in a bubble.
“It made it maybe a little bit easier to even focus on performance and really be in the moment because you’re literally in a bubble but very much in your zone,” she shared.
Clark said the day she won the gold medal with a 3-2 win over the United States, she was different somehow.
“Honestly, the whole day has been a dream,” she said. “When I woke up I had a very good feeling, honestly a lot of confidence in the team. I never felt that on a league game day.
She said she made it a priority to live in the moment that day.
“(I was) so by the time the game ended I realized we had won but I don’t think it really struck me that we had won an Olympic gold medal,” he said. Clark said with a smile.