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James Johnson
Founder and Principal

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MEET MELISSA

 Pushing a sled has pushed me as a person.
I have grown deeper and achieved higher than I ever thought possible because of this sport! Along the way I have had the incredible honour of motivating and leading others to reach their goals –impacting their lives and the greater community.
For me, that’s true gold

Maybe that sounds cliché. But scribbled on the 5th page of my grade 8 journal (the first of what now is a 20+ volume series of thoughts, prayers, musings and doodles captured in pen and ink) is a giddy prayer about my audacious dream to one day compete at the prestigious Olympic Games.
Don’t ask me when and where that dream exactly started. I don’t remember.
But by the time I had reached the 8th grade it was there, familiar, deeply ingrained, and already tainted with a grown-up understanding of probability such that in my journal I referred to it as my “silly dream”.
It wasn’t logical (dreams rarely are). And I had no idea where or how or if I could do it.
But more than anything, deep in my heart I wanted to compete at the Olympic level.
...and more than that, I wanted to use that experience to empower others.

Hi, I’m Melissa!
As a kid I dreamed of going to the Olympics.
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I was raised on the family farm - homesteaded by my great-grandfather in 1932

Helping and playing on the farm provided me with endless learning opportunities, unique experiences and a strong foundation for athletic strength and coordination. My family even jokes that I had my first bobsleigh ride at home on the farm when I was 3 or so years old. I hauled my big red shiny metal toboggan up the ladder at least twice my height to the top of a slide made by my dad and opa. I then jumped on, ripped down into the snow-covered garden and ran back up to do it again!

Yet, more than hands-on skills and knowledge, the farm taught me many lessons that still guide me today: As my family cultivated, planted, cared for and harvested crops year after year through the ups and downs of abundance, drought, pests, market swings and weather both good and bad I learned about the value of hard work, the payoff of perseverance, the importance of integrity, the relationship between risk and reward, the power of perspective and so much more!

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SPRINTING TO SLEDDING

After playing a variety of sports growing up, I pursued track at the University of Alberta. At the end of my first year my teammate Christine deBruin switched from sprinting to sledding sparking my interest in the sport.

Three years later in 2013 I attended a Bobsleigh Canada ID camp.  Then, the following year I packed up everything I owned and moved to Calgary to train with and officially try out for the national bobsleigh team. 

Click here to learn more about Bobsleigh Canada recruitment! 

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PUSH TO START

The speed and power I trained as a sprinter transferred very well to pushing a sled. Within mere months I was on the World Cup circuit competing in the top Canadian sled as a brakeman.

As a brakeman my primary role was getting the heavy sled (170kg+) moving as quickly as possible before jumping in at the start of the run. Once we crossed the finish line it was also my job to pull the brakes. Behind the scenes there was lots to learn as well - from how to move sleds to how to take care of them and get them ready for race, to what a race week looked like, to the constant competition week to week of who would race with who and learning how to live life out of a suitcase for months on end away from family and friends. My start in the sport felt a lot like the ride down the bobsleigh course itself: really quick, with fast sometimes jarring transitions.. and a total rush that kept you coming back for more!

From 2014-2018 I was the brakeman to beat. In that time I won: 

- 2 Overall titles (crystal globe)

- 2 runner up titles (crystal globe)

- 2 World Championship silver medals

- 17 World Cup medals.

Alongside my teammates I also made history as part of the first all women’s team to compete in the 4-man World Cup competition.

In 2018 I got to live out my childhood dream of competing at the Olympics! I partnered with Christine deBruin (the track teammate who introduced me to the sport of bobsleigh) to finish 7th place in a tight race for the podium.

Long before I had even stepped foot on the ice we had joked about one day competing together at the Olympics - who would have thought that one day we would actually do it! 

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PILOT PLUNGE

Following my Olympic debut I chose to challenge myself by learning how to pilot a sled with the goal of working back up to the World Cup level and qualifying for the 2022 Olympics in a new role.

Within a month of competing at the Games I was back at the track learning the ropes (literally!) of driving a sled. Throughout our 3 week "driving school" we worked our way up the Lake Placid track learning to see timing points, feel pressure and understand how the sled would react at speed of 120+km/h.

The next season - my first as a driver - I learnt all 4 North American bobsleigh tracks. At the end of the year I hopped back on brakes for our home World Championships in Whistler to help push the team to our best ever team result. 

The following year in addition to competing on the development circuit in North America I travelled to Europe to learn some more tracks. This included racing in my first World Cup race as a pilot in January of 2020. 

One year later I returned to the World Cup to score the first-ever Canadian World Cup medal in the new Olympic discipline of women’s monobob. In the same race weekend I finished 5th in the 2-woman event. Later that season at the inaugural women's monobob World Championships I finished 7th.  

The next Olympics are set for February of 2022 in Beijing, China. For the first time women’s bobsleigh will feature two events: women’s 2man and monobob. My goal is to compete for Canada in both events. 

Want to help me reach my gold?
Click here to learn more!

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

2021- WORLD CUP, WOMEN'S MONOBOB- BRONZE

2018 – OLYMPICS, WOMEN’S 2MAN, PYEONGCHANG, KOR – 7TH

2017/18 – OVERALL WORLD CUP STANDINGS, WOMEN’S 2MAN - GOLD

2017 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, WHISTLER, CAN - GOLD

2017 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, PARK CITY, USA - SILVER

2017 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, LAKE PLACID, USA - GOLD

2016/17 – OVERALL WORLD CUP STANDINGS, WOMEN’S 2MAN - SILVER

2017 – WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, WOMEN’S 2MAN, KOENIGSSEE, GER - SILVER

2017 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, IGLS, AUT – SILVER

2017 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, ST. MORTIZ, SUI – SILVER

2017 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, ALTENBERG, GER – GOLD

2015/16 – OVERALL WORLD CUP STANDINGS, WOMEN’S 2MAN - GOLD

2016 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, KOENIGSSEE, GER - SILVER

2016 – WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, WOMEN’S 2MAN, IGLS, AUT -SILVER

2016 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, ST. MORITZ, SUI - BRONZE

2016 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, WHISTLER, CAN - GOLD

2016 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, PARK CITY, USA - GOLD

2016 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, LAKE PLACID, USA -SILVER

2015 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, KOENIGSSEE, GER - GOLD

2015 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, WINTERBERG, GER - BRONZE

2015 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, ALTENBERG, GER - GOLD

2014/15 – OVERALL WORLD CUP STANDINGS, WOMEN’S 2MAN -SILVER

2015 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, SOCHI, RUS - SILVER

2015 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, LA PLAGNE, FRA - BRONZE

2015 – WORLD CUP, WOMEN’S 2MAN, ALTENBERG, GER - BRONZE