Melissa Lotholz will go for gold in bobsleigh
By Diego Flammini
At least one person with ties to Canada’s ag community will travel to PyeongChang, South Korea to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Melissa Lotholz, a 25-year-old bobsledder, grew up on a cattle and grain farm in Barrhead, Alta. Over 80 years ago, her great-grandfather bought the farm for about about $10 and homesteaded it.
And when she’s on the bobsled course trying to bring home an Olympic medal, the two-time World Championships silver medallist will be reminded of her first toboggan ride, which took place on the family farm.
“My dad and my (grandfather) welded together what you could call a classic swing set but it was adult-sized,” Lotholz told Farms.com yesterday after being officially named one of Canada’s Olympic-bound athletes.
“I was three or four years old and I hauled this toboggan that was at least twice as tall as I was (and went up the slide). It was actually a cattle trough that never got used. I went down the slide (on the toboggan) into a snowpack at the bottom a few times before my parents looked out the window, like ‘What is Melissa doing?’”
Lotholz also noted the similarities between farming and athletics.
Farmers and athletes begin their seasons with the goal of producing the best results. But many uncontrollable variables can make that goal a challenge.
“You put in all the work and you pray for a harvest,” she said. “You plant this dream and you nurture it, but you can’t control how it grows.
“In farming, you can’t control if the rains come or if there’s a drought. In bobsled, there are a number of things that are out of your control once the race starts.”
Lotholz also uses farming and athletic challenges to inspire future Olympians or farmers.
She speaks to school children about following their dreams and encourages them not to let bumps in the road slow them down.
“The Olympic year has been full of bumps in the road for me, but the harvest (Olympics) is almost here,” Lotholz said.
“The beautiful thing about a (farmer’s) harvest is that the seeds don’t just plant new dreams in your own life, but a farmer takes those seeds and feeds the world. So whether I’m on top of the podium with a gold medal or not, I’m excited there’s a bigger picture at play and I can help inspire people to chase their dreams.”
When the bobsled season ends, Lotholz likes to head back to the farm and immerse herself in the community.
“Going home is a privilege,” she said. “The more I live in the city, the more I realize that my heart is out in the countryside. It’s one of the best parts of living in Alberta.”
Farms.com wishes all of Team Canada luck as they represent the country in the Winter Olympics!
Top photo: Melissa Lotholz, right, will race alongside teammate Kaillie Humphries at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Photo: Independent Sports News