Canadian skeleton racer Mellisa Hollingsworth is a World Cup champion and an Olympic bronze medallist – and TAQA is one of her main sponsors. She spoke to TAQAWORLD about her life in skeleton racing, her hopes for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the impact of TAQA’s support
You have been competing since 1995 and are an Olympic bronze medallist, but what was it that first attracted you to skeleton racing?
My cousin Ryan Davenport is a double world champion and builds skeleton sleds. He saw potential in me as a young athlete and thought I’d fit well into the sport. His instinct was spot on. Three months after attending skeleton school, I won the Canadian Championships and was competing in Europe the following season.
Skeleton can be a dangerous sport – you spoke recently about dealing with concussion after your first run at La Plagne in France. How do you deal with these sorts of fears before you start a race?
You just commit to the task at hand and rust yourself. When things get difficult, you have to take a step back and make things simpler. Sliding requires relaxation in an intense situation and if you try to force something you can make that situation dangerous, so it is best to be as natural as you can be in quite an unnatural position.
You recently blogged about a disappointing result in Altenberg, Germany. How do you pick yourself up after a poor performance?
You’ve just got to leave it at the track and look forward to the next stage as an opportunity for success. I was extremely frustrated in Altenberg because of poor track conditions. It’s unfortunate that sometimes your fate is completely in the hands of the weather, particularly when you are chasing vital World Cup points. But I guess that’s the price you pay if you choose to compete in a winter sport.
You are a role model and an inspiration to many people. does this add pressure to your performance? how do you deal with this?
When I slide it’s just me, my sled and the track. If any other thoughts enter my mind it will be a distraction. I know my family loves me regardless of my results, and for me that is all that matters. Who you are as a person is the most important thing, not the placing in the race. That is what I hope the younger generation will notice more than an Olympic medal.
As well as being your father’s employer, TAQA is one of your major corporate sponsors. how has the company supported you during your career?
TAQA’s sponsorship has made it financially possible for me to compete for my country. Skeleton is a very expensive sport and I am responsible for my own equipment, which is constantly evolving and improving. Having the support of TAQA allows me to be at the top of my game.
You work alongside TAQA to support the local community in Calgary, Canada. Why is this important to you?
My association with TAQA is more than just financial support. I feel a part of the company and their belief in my abilities helps me keep my spirits high. Having the opportunity to represent my country at the Olympics and share my journey with TAQA has been incredible. Maybe it will inspire a staff member to take some risks, chase their dreams and change their life forever.
You finished last season by competing in the bobsleigh and skeleton world championships in Switzerland. What is your next goal?
We get to slide on the 2014 Olympic track in Sochi, Russia for the first time, so there will be lots of learning ahead.
What are your hopes for the 2014 winter Olympics?
After my disappointing finish in the 2010 Olympics, I immediately committed to the 2014 Games and want to get back on the podium. That’s the dream and what all the hard work over the last four-year cycle has been going towards.