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Abigail Strate

Canadian Ski Jumper Abigail Strate Proves She’s The Bee’s Knees! 

Strate believes that beekeeping has taught her to stay calm in chaotic situations, which has benefited her ski jumping career

What do ski jumping at the Olympic level and beekeeping have in common? 

Absolutely nothing! 

Strate (left) celebrating with teammate Alex Loutitt after winning Canada's first World Cup medal in a Super Team ski jumping competition
Strate (left) celebrating with teammate Alex Loutitt after winning Canada’s first World Cup medal in a Super Team ski jumping competition | Ski Jumping Canada | Facebook

But that hasn’t stopped Abigail Strate from learning a thing or two from bees. 

Strate is a national treasure known for her history-making Olympic debut at Beijing 2022, where she helped Canada earn its first-ever Olympic medal in ski jumping.

More recently, she went on an absolute tear at the 2024 FIS Ski Jump World Cup in January, earning three medals in five days

Shortly after, Strate and Alex Loutitt, another exceptional Canadian ski jumper, made history after winning Canada’s first World Cup medal in a Super Team ski jumping competition

Ski jumping is a physically demanding sport that also requires mental strength. According to Strate, beekeeping helps her improve her mental focus while competing. 

“It’s actually trained me to be quite calm in kind of chaotic situations, and those situations happen quite often in sports,” Strate told CBC News

Whether jumping in a pool or hiding behind our friends, we have all done something silly to avoid being stung by a bee. 

Strate is different. Instead of running in fear, she embraces the adrenaline rush she feels when she is working with bees and can hear them buzzing around her head. 

“It is calming if you’re calm and you’re working nicely around them, but it can also get a bit hectic if the bees aren’t too happy you’re there,” Strate explained. 

Since Strate and her father took a course to become certified beekeepers five years ago, she has been stung many times. Even after being stung, Strate’s passion for bees never stopped buzzing. 

“It always kind of fascinated me, beekeeping and honey and hives and the whole production,” said Strate.

Strate posing for a photo after winning bronze at the women's World Cup ski jumping competition
Strate posing for a photo after winning bronze at the women’s World Cup ski jumping competition | Ski Jumping Canada | CBC News

A Lesson To Bee Learned

Staying calm in chaotic situations is one of the lessons Strate learned while beekeeping. The bees have also taught her a thing or two about patience and perseverance.

Canada's women's ski jumping team Abigail Strate (top left), Natalie Eilers (top right), Nicole Maurer (bottom left), and Alex Loutitt (bottom right)
Canada’s women’s ski jumping team: Abigail Strate (top left), Natalie Eilers (top right), Nicole Maurer (bottom left), and Alex Loutitt (bottom right) | Ski Jumping Canada | Facebook

Bees have to work incredibly hard to produce a single jar of honey. The insects make honey from nectar, the sugary liquid produced by flowers.

Bees return this nectar to their hive, where it eventually becomes honey. A bee carries about 0.02 grams of nectar in one trip.

To fill a jar with 454 grams of honey, bees must make almost 23,000 trips! Bees’ work ethic can be described by one simple word: dedication

In the same way, Strate is dedicated to her craft as a ski jumper. Strate has dealt with her fair share of hardships throughout her sports career. 

When Calgary’s ski jumps shut down in 2018, the Canadian ski jump team established a base to train in Slovenia. 

The team lacked the funding for proper equipment forcing its members, including Strate, to train using shoddy gear. Strate compared her team’s situation to that of a bee hive. 

“There doesn’t really seem to be a queen bee, but we’re all just kind of workers, and we all know our jobs…We’re all working together, trying not to get in each other’s ways and try to make the smoothest path for all of us to be the best we can be. We kind of operate on a hive mind,” Strate told CTV News.

Against the odds, Strate and her fellow Canadians have pumped out incredible results by training hard, staying focused, and setting goals. 

“I’ve worked a lot of years at this sport. I’ve had a lot of really not fun years, and having that not one-time podium, but three in a row showed me, ‘OK, I can do this.’ I’ve gotten silvers and bronze. How can I get that gold?” said Strate as she reflected on her World Cup performance. 

Proud Bee Mom 

Strate is away from her home in Calgary most months because she is training in Slovenia and travelling worldwide to compete.

Strate posing with her bees in Calgary
Strate posing with her bees in Calgary | Ski Jumping Canada | Facebook

When she does get the chance to come home, the first thing she likes to do is check in on the two beehives she and her father keep in Calgary’s northwest. 

Strate is currently studying graphic design at York University’s Toronto Film School but will return to Slovenia next week to prepare for next season. 

Even though summer training is right around the corner, Strate’s bees are ever on her mind. 

This summer, she plans on asking her dad for regular updates on the hives and will help him prepare them for winter when she is home for a few days in October. 

Strate’s passion for bees is no secret. Her friends and teammates call her “Bee” and she does not hesitate to plaster anything and everything with a bee sticker, including the team’s car. 

“I don’t know how much the organizers like that, but I’m going to keep doing it until someone tells me not to,” said Strate. 

A jar of honey produced by Strate’s bees is just as sweet as a gold medal podium finish. Both results require patience and the confidence to bee-lieve in the outcome. 

“Finally getting that jar of honey after doing the full year of work, I mean, we probably get 200 jars max, but it’s very nice seeing them all lined up,” commented Strate.

Just like spilled honey, Strate’s resolve isn’t going anywhere. With a gold medal in sight, we have no doubt she will soar to new heights on the slopes and make Alberta proud.

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