Ty Smith, a former Humboldt Broncos hockey player who survived the tragic bus crash in 2018, and his girlfriend Kat Kastner, have been crowned the winners of The Amazing Race Canada Season 9.
"It feels so good," Kastner told Yahoo Canada the morning after the final episode aired Tuesday night, adding that it was "so hard" to keep their win a secret all summer long.
"Ultimately, it was so fun to watch our family's reactions and our friends be surprised throughout the season."
Throughout the race, Smith and Kastner referred to the "16 angels" they have in the sky looking down on them and the 16 families that have a "forever missing seat at the dinner table," referencing Smith's Humboldt Broncos teammates who were tragically killed in the bus crash.
For Smith, who's moved into public speaking and mental health awareness following the tragedy, he's learned that, "you really never know when somebody needs to see something or hear something." That's something that rang true for the team throughout their time on Amazing Race Canada.
"I think for us, we went into it wanting to inspire and offer hope, and hopefully give people faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel," Smith said. "We just wanted to be our authentic selves and we just wanted to be genuine and just have as much fun as possible."
"Hopefully ... offering those smiles, offering those laughs can offer the same thing on the other side of the TV."
Smith highlighted that he's gotten so many supportive messages about being on the show, including a father who reached out to say that every Tuesday night all six members of his family sit down together to watch Amazing Race Canada, a bonding time that's never happened before.
"To hear that we've kind of created that fun little community, I think that's what we love," Smith said. "I think that's why we had so much fun, was because we've constantly felt that love and support."
"It's a little bit weird to watch yourself in that position. It's not what I'm used to," Kastner added.
"It was really special for me and I have struggled with depression, anxiety for most of my young adult life. There were so many days where I let that stop me from doing something ... and on the race, you don't really have that option. You just have to go and that was really good for me. ... It was really empowering, and just really refreshing and special for me to be able to inspire others."
'One challenge at a time, one step at a time, one city at a time'
Throughout the race, Smith and Kastner were clearly the team to watch. They had great communication and were regularly successful in the challenges.
But the couple believe that their attitude to just have fun, without too many grand expectations, is what helped them get that big win.
"I think we came into this with no expectations, but being able to fully embrace being present," Smith explained. "Not really knowing what we're doing next, or where we're going, but just focusing on one challenge at a time, one step at a time, one city at a time."
"We definitely ... wanted to be in that finale, but for us, we wanted to also enjoy ... the little fun moments that we had, whether it was the fun we had with the horse carriage in [Smithers, B.C.], or the leg we just enjoyed so much in [Tofino, B.C.]. ... We can always go back on so many little moments that we will forever remember, ... which was, I think, pretty special for us."
"We're honestly just happy to be here," Kastner said. "We were so grateful to have the opportunity that that's all we were there for, was to just enjoy it and see what we could do."
"I think that was actually a strategy that worked because we weren't overthinking it. We weren't too stressed or too intense."
Is Ty Smith proposing to Kat Kastner?
At the end of the final episode of the season, Smith and Kastner were asked by the show's host Jon Montgomery what's "next to come," having just won a $250,000 cash prize from Samsung, in addition to two 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 cars and a round-the-world trip for two courtesy of GURU Organic Energy.
Kastner's response was, "hopefully a ring on my finger."
When the couple was asked if there's been an progress on that, Smith said it's "definitely" coming "in the future," but cautious to not spill too many details.