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Barrhead native competes at her first Olympics as a pilot

Melissa Lotholz and her brakeman Sara Villani moved up four spots in the final day of two-woman bobsleigh competition to finish 12th.
Melissa Lotholz and Sara Villani
Melissa Lotholz (left) and Sarah Villani (right) pose on the edge of the bobsleigh track in Bejing prior to the start of training. courtesy of Melissa Lotholz Facebook page

Barrhead's Melissa Lotholz moved up four spots finishing in 12th place in the two-women bobsleigh competition at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Lotholz, who is at her second Olympics, but first as a pilot, found herself in 16th place with Sara Villani, who served as her brakeman after the first day of competition.

In her first Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Lotholz finished seventh as a brakeman in a Christine de Bruin piloted bobsleigh.

After the pair's first run on Feb. 18, they found themselves in 18th place after finishing with a time of 1:02.12. In their second run, Lotholz and Villani improved their time, finishing with a time of 1:02.09, good enough for 10th in the heat. Their combined time put them in 16th place.

The next day, Lotholz and Villani had their best run of the Olympics, finishing in eighth place in the third heat with a time of 1:01.85.

Unfortunately, the pair could not build on their momentum, finishing 15th in their final heat with a time of 1:02.31. Their four heat combined time was good enough for 12th place.

Her former sleigh mate Christine de Bruin, now teamed with Kristen Bujnowski, finished in fifth place. The other Canadian sleigh piloted by Cynthia Appiah finished eighth.

Lotholz is a veteran of the Canadian Bobsleigh team, having joined in the fall of 2014. For the first four years, she would compete as a brakeman, mostly for Canadian pilot Kaillie Humphries, accumulating 17 World Cup medals, including two World Championship silver medals in the process.

After the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, she decided to jump into the front seat and become a pilot, attending a piloting school shortly after returning from the Olympics.

Lotholz is the first female Canadian athlete to have competed in two different Olympics as both a brakeman (in 2018) and a pilot (2022).

Other firsts for Lotholz in her bobsleigh career include being part of the first all-female crewed four-man bobsleigh to compete in a World Cup race (January 2016).

She also is the first Canadian to win a monobob World Series medal, earning bronze in Königssee, Germany, in 2019.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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