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Mikkelson, Spooner take golden hockey skills to "The Amazing Race Canada"

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CALGARY - Meaghan Mikkelson and Natalie Spooner spent months preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

That preparation yielded a gold medal for the two women and the rest of the Canadian women's hockey team.

Mikkelson and Spooner then entered another physically and mentally gruelling competition completely cold.

They are one of the 11 teams on the second season of "The Amazing Race Canada". The first episode airs July 8 on CTV. Teams must overcome challenges while travelling from one destination to the next.

"The whole year we prepared to go play hockey," Spooner said. "You know the next day that you're waking up and you're going to play a hockey game.

"'The Amazing Race', you wake up and you have no clue what you're about to do that day, where you are going. There's so many unknowns so it's so mentally tough along with being physically tough."

Added Mikkelson: "There's no way you can prepare for anything that happens on that race. I have a whole new appreciation for 'The Amazing Race' and how hard it is. We've been in some pretty stressful situations, but this was up there."

CTV began rolling out the names of teams for the second season Tuesday.

Montreal couple Alain Chanoine and Audrey Tousignant-Maurice and friends Shahla Kara and Nabeela Barday from Toronto will join Mikkelson and Spooner in the race for $250,000, two trucks, the opportunity to fly business class with Air Canada for a year and "gas for life" from Petro Canada.

Jon Montgomery, an Olympic gold medallist in skeleton in 2010, will host the show again. Winnipeg's Tim Hague and son Tim Hague Jr., won the inaugural race last year.

"The Amazing Race Canada" is one of a dozen international versions spawned by "The Amazing Race" in the United States.

Mikkelson is a 29-year-old defenceman from St. Albert, Alta., who now lives in Calgary.

She played in February's gold-medal game in Sochi with a broken hand. She assisted on Brianne Jenner's third-period goal at 16:34 that sparked Canada's comeback from a two-goal deficit.

Marie-Philip Poulin scored the equalizer with less than a minute remaining in the game and also overtime winner. Mikkelson also won gold in women's hockey in 2010.

She says athletes often feel a sense of letdown after an Olympic Games. She was on board immediately when Spooner asked her to put together an audition video last December.

"I thought it would push me out of my comfort zone," Mikkelson explained. "I know how it is when you come home from an Olympics. Being there is such a high and there's a bit of a letdown when you get home just in terms of the pace of life.

"I felt like this would be really good timing for us."

Spooner, a 23-year-old forward from Toronto, made her Olympic debut in Sochi with two goals and two assists in five games.

The strong power forward plays like she's shot out of a cannon. She felt the steadying influence of Mikkelson would make them a formidable duo.

"She's totally different from me in that I'm spur of the moment, like to go fast whereas she takes time with detail and will slow me down," Spooner said. "She likes control which is a good thing in that she would be able to stop me and say 'No Spooner, we need to do this.' She's an amazing athlete too."

The two women have the skills for the race as they've travelled internationally with the Canadian team, they're extremely fit and know who to overcome adversity to achieve a goal.

But winning the grand prize on "The Amazing Race Canada" also requires luck. A lost taxi driver can mean finishing last on a leg and elimination.

The second season was taped this spring and because racers were required to bring passports, speculation is rampant the teams will travel outside the country this time.

The contestants are required to sign confidentiality agreements. Mikkelson says she won't even talk about the show with her husband Scott Reid.

"He signed a confidentiality agreement too, so technically I can, but I do not want to tell anybody," she said. "I just want everybody to just watch it."

Spooner and Mikkelson will join defenceman Tessa Bonhomme as members of the Canadian women's hockey team who have appeared on reality TV shows.

Bonhomme, another 2010 Olympian, was a winner on CBC's figure skating show "Battle of The Blades" and she also competed in "Wipeout Canada."

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