She brought a bronze medal back from Torino, instantly making her a hot commodity.
Skeleton racer Mellisa Hollingsworth was worried her fifth-place finish at Vancouver 2010 would have the opposite effect.
Boy, was she wrong.
“After Torino, people would be like, ‘Can I see the medal? I want to have a picture with the medal.’ We joked that if the medal could walk and talk and it had legs, it wouldn’t need me,” Hollingsworth said. “Now, since Vancouver, it doesn’t matter. It’s rare when people will ask to see that medal. People just want to know who that girl is who rides a horse.
“That, to me, is a really big compliment because Canada has paid attention to who
I am as a person, and they’re more interested in that than just seeing a medal.”
As a former medallist and the overall leader on the World Cup circuit, Hollingsworth was touted as one of Canada’s best bets for gold on home ice. She entered the final run of the women’s skeleton event in second spot but bumped the wall twice and dropped out of medal contention.
Afterward, the emotional Albertan told the nationally-televised broadcast, “I feel like I’ve let my entire country down.”
Turns out, the entire country has been bringing her back up.
The 29-year-old estimates she’s received about 10,000 letters of support, responding to most and stashing all of them in a container at home.
She attends countless charity events, even if it means less time to spend with her family and her horse.
Six months after the closing ceremony, Hollingsworth is still inundated with requests and speaking engagements.
“At the time, right as my race had ended, I thought, that’s it. Who knows what would happen with my career, as far as speaking and sponsors and all that kind of stuff, with a fifth-place finish at the Olympics?” Hollingsworth said. “I thought ‘Why would anybody be interested in my story?’ But I learned that very quickly at the Olympics, when we did all the interviews and the press conferences and realized that there was quite a bit to my story.”