Local Olympian competes in barrel racing
It wasn’t the run Airdrie resident Mellisa Hollingsworth was hoping for.
Competing in the Friday night performance at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo, June 29, Hollingsworth and her horse, Pepi, upended a barrel on their second turn. The stumble resulted in a five-second penalty, and Hollingsworth finished out the top 10 and out of contention for prize money.
“We kind of bowed off a bit at first, and I think she got a little disoriented,” she said. “There wasn’t really enough room.”
It was Hollingsworth’s second appearance at her hometown rodeo, but her first with Pepi. The two-time Olympian in Skeleton racing competed on the ladies barrel racing circuit with another horse, Rascal, before teaming up with Pepi last August. However, as the summer came to an end, Hollingsworth returned to training in Calgary and travelling the world on the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) World Cup circuit all winter. She won silver at the FIBT World Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y. this past February.
A busy winter didn’t give Hollingsworth and Pepi much time to gel as a team, but Hollingsworth was pleased with how the first few weeks of the summer rodeo circuit have gone for the pair, including her run in Airdrie.
“I’m happy with it,” she said. “We’re learning so much. We haven’t had a whole lot of time to bond, so that’s what we’ll be doing this summer, trying to get things going for the next couple of years. She’s really competitive, and it’s just about me learning her.”
With a trio of rodeos taking place over the Canada Day long weekend, including the Ponoka and Williams Lake Stampedes, it was a quick turnaround for Hollingsworth, who was heading to B.C. the next day.
“With smaller pens, it makes it a bit tougher,” she said. “Your timing has to be absolutely perfect, but (Williams Lake) has a bigger pen, so I’m really excited about that.”
Brooke Ramsay of Cochrane also finished outside the top 10 and out of contention for the prize money.
The ladies barrel racing was won by Pincher Creek’s Nina Smith who beat out Nikki Steffes of Vale, S.D. by 0.27 seconds and took home $3,963. Lindsay Sears of Nanton, Alta. took third place with a time of 14.915.