Road To The Olympic Games

Sliding

New challenges with Canadian bobsleigh team 'a journey' for Melissa Lotholz

Melissa Lotholz is embracing some new roles with Canada's bobsleigh team. After years of acting as brakeman for some of the country's top pilots, the 26-year-old wanted a new challenge — she wanted to be at the front of the sled.

26-year-old wants to be in front of sled, mentoring new faces on national squad

Canada's Kori Hol, of Richmond, B.C., and Melissa Lotholz, of Barrhead, Alta., race down the track on their first run during the women's bobsleigh event world championships in Whistler, B.C., on Saturday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Melissa Lotholz is embracing some new roles with Canada's bobsleigh team.

After years of acting as brakeman for some of the country's top pilots, the 26-year-old wanted a new challenge — she wanted to be at the front of the sled.

"Post Olympic year you get to sit back and re-evaluate and figure out 'What's the next challenge? What's the next goal?' Driving for me was a personal challenge," said Lotholz, who slid to seventh in women's bobsleigh at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The native of Barrhead, Alta., said she took a lot of time after the Games to decide look at what comes next, not returning to training until September.

"Whatever happens at the Olympics — whether your wildest dreams come true or it's a complete catastrophe or somehow both — you go through this kind of 'It's come and gone' kind of feeling," she said.

"It's a journey, I think. And it's exciting moving into this new [Olympic cycle] to play a different role."

Taking on role of mentor

This weekend Lotholz is back to her previous job as a brakeman at the world championships in Whistler, B.C.

But she's still embracing a new job, mentoring Kori Hol — a new face on the Canadian squad.

"I've been around the block a couple of times," Lotholz said. "So it's exciting to get to be able to share that experience and use my experience to encourage here and just to get into the zone."

Hol's first world championships come just a week after she made her first world cup appearance in Calgary, so having a veteran in the sled is a big help, she said.

WATCH | Canadian bobsledders spend 47 seconds upside down

At the bobsleigh world championships, Canadian two-man team Nick Poloniato and Ben Coakwell crashed in their second heat, then cruised down the track upside down for 47 seconds before crossing the finish line. 2:05

"I think it's a huge advantage to have her in the back with me and have her share some of her experience with me," said the native of Richmond, B.C.

Hol admitted to being "extremely nervous" in Calgary but said she was much more calm on Saturday, the first of two days of world championship competition in Whistler.

"This weekend it's a very different feeling," the 26-year-old said. "I'm very comfortable here, just because it's my home ice."

Hol and Lotholz sat in 16th place Saturday afternoon with a combined time of one minute, 47.33 seconds after two runs.

Broken records

Christine de Bruin of Stony Plain, Alta., and brakeman Kristen Bujnowski of Mount Brydges, Ont., sat in fourth with a time of one minute 46.03 seconds.

De Bruin said her second run of the day — a 53.12 second effort — wasn't the greatest because she skidded coming out of the second corner.

WATCH | Scott Russell narrates de Bruin's journey from sprinting to bobsleigh:

CBC Sports' Scott Russell narrates de Bruin's journey from sprinting to bobsleigh, and realizing her dream of representing Canada internationally. 1:29

Germany's Mariama Jamanka was in first Saturday after posting a time of 1:45.22.

The reigning Olympic champion and her brakeman, Annika Drazek, broke a course record on their first run with a time of 52.64 seconds.

But the new milestone didn't hold up for long. Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lake Kwaza smashed the record with a 52.48 first run. The pair sat in second place after Saturday's races.

Canadians Alysia Rissling and Cynthia Appiah were in eighth place at the end of day one.

Men's two-man bobsled was set to wrap up Saturday evening.

Canada's Justin Kripps and Cam Stones entered the second day of competition in second place, 0.12 seconds back of Germany's Francesco Friedrich and Margis Thorsten after two runs.

The women are set to return to the track on Sunday for their final two heats.

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