As a natural born athlete who has excelled in just about everything, Kori Hol’s latest conquest could have her representing Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
The 25-year-old McMath grad is considered a top prospect with Canada’s national bobsled program. She teamed with Julie Johnson last month to make her European debut — finishing ninth at the World Junior Two-Man Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
The pair were Canada’s only team at the event that brought the top competitors under the age of 26 to the 1,722-metre, naturally refrigerated track with 19 curves that snakes down the side of a Swiss mountain at an average gradient of 8.14 per cent. The result is part of a journey that began when Hol was initially recruited as a member of the University of Lethbridge women’s soccer team.
The fact she was even on the pitch is an impressive achievement in itself.
Hol had never played organized soccer before.
Growing up volleyball was her passion playing at the club level with Air Attack and for McMath’s high school teams. Her 5-foot-10 frame made her a natural in the sport.
She also enjoyed basketball and was good enough to play at the college level for Langara before heading to Lethbridge to pursue her degree in kinesiology. It was during a performance analysis class she was asked to come out for the soccer team and she cracked the roster as defender.
Hol was on the Lethbridge practice field in the fall of 2016 when she was identified by Helen Upperton — a 2010 Olympic bobsled silver medalist who is now head coach of the Winsport Sport Academy bobsleigh program.
She was soon off to the Whistler Sliding Centre’s bobsleigh pilot school and has never looked back.
“It was something I always watched during the Olympics and thought it was one of the bigger and cool sports,” said Hol. “The adrenaline rush is unbelievable. I just want to keep doing it more and more.”
Recruiting multi-sport athletes is nothing new for the national program. Current senior members Jesse Lumsden and Sam Giguere are former star football players, while Phylicia George was a standout in the 100-metre hurdles for Canada. It’s all about identifying prospects with speed and strength with the (push) start being such a critical part of the sport.
That’s why Kol is spending plenty of time in the weight room as well but also conscious of keeping her own weight between 78-80 kilos. After being a brakeman at the Junior Worlds, Hol is back working as pilot. It’s all part of her development and moving forward and coaches’ identifying her strengths.
She also competed on the North American Cup circuit this past season that featured events in Lake Placid and Calgary. Her competitive schedule will intensify next year.
Kol will put her university degree to use one day as a teacher and is also interested in pursuing sport management. However, the time is now to chase her Olympic dream.
“Beijing is definitely the goal,” said Hol. “We’ve just entered a new quad (four-year training cycle) and the timing is perfect.”