By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, SOCHI, RUSSIA, Fri. Feb. 7, 2014: Thirty-three athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean will compete at the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Russia, which kicks off officially with an opening ceremony from the Fisht Stadium that will be aired tape-delayed on NBC from 7:30 p.m. EST.
Jamaica will have the most athletes of any Caribbean nation with a three-member bob sleigh team.
The Jamaican bob sleigh team is made up of Jamaican national and U.S. citizen, Winston Watts, 46, Marvin Dixon, 30 and Wayne Blackwood, 44.
Dixon is the push athlete on the squad and began competing in bobsleigh in 2007.
Watts began competing in bobsleigh in 1993. He competed at previous editions of the Olympic Winter Games under the name Winston Watt.
“We want to go out there and show the world that we are still around, that we are still competitors. You always hear people at events, and over in Europe asking, ‘Hey, where is the Jamaican bobsleigh team?,'” Watts said recently.
Dominica follows at two with the husband-and-wife team of Gary Di Silvestri and Angelica Morrone Di Silvestri.
She and her husband were given Dominican citizenship after doing philanthropic work in the country and other Caribbean islands. In 2012, after the International Olympic Committee inquired about the possibility of Dominica sending athletes to compete the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, she and her husband were contacted by the Dominica Olympic Committee.
“They knew us, called us and said, ‘Guys, we want you to represent Dominica if you think you can qualify.’ At first we were hesitant, going from a hobby to a full-time commitment. We said, ‘What the hell. It’s an opportunity. We’ll take it’,” Angelica revealed recently.
The couple formed the Dominica Ski Federation and became eligible to compete in international events.
There is one athlete each respectively, representing the BVI, the USVI and Bermuda.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Twenty-one-year-old Peter Crook will become the first British Virgin Islands athlete in 30 years to represent his country at an Olympic Winter Games when he competes at the 2014 Games in Sochi.
He is representing the British Virgin Islands in the Freestyle Skiing competition. Crook was born in the British Virgin Islands, but in 2001 his parents decided to relocate to his mother’s home state of Wisconsin, United States. His parents made the move in the hope their children would have a number of different opportunities there, with the chance to do winter sports being one of them. He first tried skiing in 2001 in Wisconsin, United States.
With the aid of his father, he formed the British Virgin Islands Ski Association in 2010. He first had to persuade the British Virgin Islands Olympic Committee [BVIOC] to sanction the move, so that he could be recognized by the International Ski Federation [FIS] and compete at international events.
The first athlete to represent the Caribbean island nation was speed skater Erroll Fraser at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
At 22, Jasmine Campbell is representing the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Alpine Skiing competition.
Campbell was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and moved to Idaho, United States at age nine. Her father, John Campbell, competed for the United States Virgin Islands in alpine skiing at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville.
Dow Travers, 26, is representing the Cayman Islands in the Alpine Skiing competition. He holds Caymanian, British and Canadian citizenship. He changed his International Ski Federation [FIS] license from Great Britain to Cayman Islands at the beginning of the 2007/08 season.
Travers is co-owner and vice president of environmental management at Island Biodiesel in Cayman Islands and was the first athlete to represent Cayman Islands at an Olympic Winter Games when he competed in Vancouver in 2010. He was the Cayman Island’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Tucker Murphy is representing Bermuda in the Cross Country competition. He was named 2013 Best Newcomer by the Bermuda Triathlon Association.
In 2005 he was selected as Bermuda’s Rhodes Scholar, giving him the opportunity to study at University of Oxford, England. He was the first skier to represent Bermuda at an Olympic Winter Games when he competed in Vancouver in 2010.
Murphy trains at high altitude in Europe and North America during the season. He competed in triathlon events in preparation for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
From Latin America several athletes are also competing.
Brazil has the largest team at 12 of all Latin America while Argentina has 7 and Chile six.
Brazil is being represented by 17-year-old figure skater Isadora Williams; Jhonatan Longhi, a 26-year-old black Alpine skier; freestyle skier Joselane Santos, 29 and the bobsleigh team of Fabiana Santos, 30, Edson BindilattI, 34, Sally Mayara Da Silva, 26, Fabio Goncalves Silva, 36, Edson Ricardo Martins, 24 and Odirlei Pessoni, 31.
Also representing the South American giant which will host the 2016 Summer Olympics are Leandro Ribela, 33, who is competing in the cross country competition; Isabel Clark Ribeiro, 37, who is competing in snow-boarding; Maya Harrisson, 21, competing in Alpine skiing and Jaqueline Mourao who is competing in the Biathalon and Cross Country skiing competition.
Longhi was born in Sao Paulo but was adopted by Italian parents and has dual citizenship in both Italy and Brazil. He learned to ski at age five in Piemonte, a region near Turin, Italy and after achieving good results in local competitions, he eventually decided to take the sport more seriously.
Santos took up freestyle skiing in 2013 and says she chose the sport because of her background in gymnastics and the chance to compete at an Olympic Winter Games.
“What caught my attention was the possibility to go to Sochi. The opportunity came at a good time,” she said recently. She trained at a dry slope facility near Sao Paolo, Brazil, which has an air bag for her to land on when she practices her jumps.
Ribeiro was a flag bearer for Brazil at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin and again four years later at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. She first tried snowboarding in 1994 at age 18 after going to visit her brother in California, United States.
Argentina is being represented mostly by Alpine skiers including Salome BANCORA, 20, orge F. Birkner Ketelhohn, 23, Julietta Quiroga, 25, Sebastiano Gastaldi, 22, Cristian Javier Simari Birkner, 33 and Macarena Simari Birkner, 29.
Federico Pablo Cichero, 30 is the lone Argentine cross country skier at Sochi.
Chile is being represented by 22-year-old Stephanie Joffroy, who will compete in freestyle skiing; Yonathan Jesus Fernandez, 27; Noelle Barahona, 23; Eugenio Claro, 20 and Dominique Ohaco, 18.
Ohaco will carry the Chilean flag at Sochi and will compete in the Cross Country Skiing competition.
She began freestyle skiing at age 13. Her coach Benny Ryerson went to her house to persuade her brother to take up freestyle skiing. Ohaco decided she would also like to do the sport.
Joffroy was born in Santiago and is eligible to ski for France but committed to Chile at the beginning of the 2008/09 ski season.
Fernandez is competing in the cross country skiing competition. Due to a lack of resources he trained on roads in Chile instead of snow.
“I am training in the roads and there are people and cars in the way, I have to fight with this every day. Apart from concentrating on the training, you have to be worried that you are going to get run over or fall. It’s very dangerous, but this is just another obstacle in my life that I have to overcome,” said Fernandez recently.
Barahona began skiing at age five, in La Parva, Chile and at age 15, she became the youngest alpine skier at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin. Barahona is competing as an Alpine Skier.
Claro is competing in the Alpine Skiing competition.
Peru has three athletes. Among them are alpine skier, 20-year-old Manfred Oettl Reyes, and his 22-year-old sister, Ornella Oettl Reyes. Both were born in Munich, Germany of a German father and Peruvian mother. They changed allegiances from Germany to represent Peru in June 2009.
Ornella was selected to be one of three members of Peru’s delegation to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, the first Peruvian team to participate in an Olympic Winter Games.
Also representing Peru will be Cross Country skier Roberto Carcelen, 43, who in 2010 he became the first Peruvian athlete to compete at the Olympic Winter Games.
Venezuela, Mexico and Paraguay have one representative each in the Winter Olympics.
Twenty-one-year-old Julia Marino has become the first Paraguayan athlete to compete at the event and will represent her country in Freestyle Skiing.
She was born in Paraguay but was adopted by US couple John Marino and Sharon Merrill at age eight months.
She decided to compete for Paraguay in 2013, but first needed to ask the US Ski and Snowboard Association [USSA] if she could be released as an athlete and still keep her International Ski Federation [FIS] points.
The organization consented, and Paraguay’s Olympic committee then agreed to double as the national ski association. This meant she was eligible to compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
“The Olympics are about representing where you are from, and Paraguay is where I’m from.”
Antonio Jose Pardo Andretta, 43, is the lone representative from Venezuela and will compete in Alpine Skiing.
Fifty-five-year-old Hubertus Von Hohenlohe is the lone representative of Mexico and will also compete in the Alpine Skiing competition.
Von Hohenlohe has dual Mexican and Austrian nationality. He was born in Mexico because his father, Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe, was overseeing a Volkswagen plant there at the time of his birth. At age 10, his family moved back to Europe, first to Spain and then to Austria.
He began skiing in Sierra Nevada, Spain. At age 12 he decided he wanted to become an elite skier, inspired by watching races on television in Austria. He is well known for his flamboyant ski attire. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver he wore a Mexicano ‘desperado’ outfit, complete with bullet straps and pistoleros.
“The power to have your own identity is so strong and something I believe in so I want to give it a go in a very cool, elegant way. I want to celebrate who they are, but of course in my own style,” he says.
This is his sixth Olympiad, surpassing the Mexican record for Olympic appearances at either the summer or winter Games.