News / Americas

Jamaica Edges Haiti in Caribbean Slalom Duel

Reuters
— Like Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, Jamaica's Michael Elliott Williams is surrounded by photographers and autograph hunters when he finishes a race and even performs the famous arrow celebration.

However, Jamaica's one competitor at the world skiing championships, can only dream of exerting the dominance in his event that compatriot Bolt does on the track.

Williams finished the qualifying run for Sunday's slalom in a sedate three minutes 39.48 seconds, almost twice the time taken by leader Victor Malmstrom of Finland.

A former American footballer who had not worn a pair of skis until 18 months ago, Williams gingerly made his way down the steep and icy Reiteralm with its dizzying vertical drop of 219 meters to finish 43rd of the 45 who completed the course.

Haitian skier Jean-Pierre Roy smiles as he poses during a training session at the World Alpine skiing Championships in Garmisch Partenkirchen Feb. 11, 2011.Haitian skier Jean-Pierre Roy smiles as he poses during a training session at the World Alpine skiing Championships in Garmisch Partenkirchen Feb. 11, 2011.
x
Haitian skier Jean-Pierre Roy smiles as he poses during a training session at the World Alpine skiing Championships in Garmisch Partenkirchen Feb. 11, 2011.
Haitian skier Jean-Pierre Roy smiles as he poses during a training session at the World Alpine skiing Championships in Garmisch Partenkirchen Feb. 11, 2011.
Yet, he still won the contest that mattered as Haitian rivals Jean-Pierre Roy and Benoit Etoc took the last two places, enabling Williams to lay claim to the title of top Caribbean slalomist.

Roy, 49, and almost certainly the only grandfather hurling himself down the icy pistes of Schladming, was 14 seconds slower.

At one point, the charismatic Haitian was in danger of being overtaken by one of the many course officials skiing down after him.

Race faster

Nevertheless, both competitors were proud to get down.

"I think all of us can race a lot faster than we did today but because it's so icy and choppy, you want to make it to the end,'' Williams told Reuters.

"Think about it, more than 80 guys did not finish the race, that's a lot.''

Competitors from unlikely skiing nations such as India, South Africa, Brazil, Peru, Albania, Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Lebanon were also among the 139 starters in a race far removed from the horn-blowing crowds of the main course.

The top 25 qualified for Sunday's race and the chance to share the piste with the likes of American triple gold medallist Ted Ligety and Austria's Marcel Hirscher.

Some countries, like India and Jamaica, have ambitious operations with coaching staff and pro-active federations while others, like Peru's German-based outfit, are little more than family affairs battling to get official recognition from local authorities.

"The ministry doesn't reply to us for no apparent reason and neither do the Olympic committee,'' said Rossana Reyes Davila, the exasperated mother of Peruvian skier Manfred Ottel Reyes. ``Without a federation we can't do anything. We are on our own.''

Cool runnings

Caribbean winter sports teams immediately conjure up thoughts of Cool Runnings, the film about the Jamaica bobsleighers who, against the odds, took part in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

"That's it in a nutshell,'' said Canada-raised Williams, who lists Ghana's "Snow Leopard'', skier Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, as another inspiration.

"I saw them do that and I was really proud of what they did for Jamaica, then I watched other skiers such as Alberto Tomba and Pirmin Zurbriggen.

 ''I thought I'd like to do something for Jamaica and be like Tomba and Zurbriggen one day and, 25 years later, here I am at the world championships, skiing. It's a dream."

 He explained: ''I thought that I was a good athlete and if I put my mind to it I can do it. My coaches think if I train constantly, they believe that I can make it to the Olympics."

Roy, who was raised and lives in France, is experienced by comparison, having taken part in the world championships in Germany two years ago when he acted as federation president, team captain and lone skier all in one.

Since then, his team has expanded, he has back-up staff and a fellow skier and is aiming for next year's Winter Games in Sochi.

''It will be the first time for Haiti to have a Winter Olympic team so it is very important,`` said Roy, adding he wanted to create publicity for the country that was not about natural disasters, poverty and political violence.

 ''It is something very special because I talk with all the stars, I talk to [Aksel Lund] Svindal, to Ligety, to the French, I tell them about Haiti and they say, 'We are proud you are here'," he said.

Roy, who is based in Paris, has discovered three skiers of Haitian descent who live in mountain areas, practise the sport regularly and could compete at a higher level.

''I think it is possible to have one guy or one lady in the top 100 in 10 years, that's my goal,`` he said.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Obama Hosts Central American Leaders

Honduras’ president attributes migration to crime, poverty and failed US legal system
More

S. Africa Launches Campaign Against US Cuba Sanctions

African National Congress launches the Cuban Solidarity Campaign to work against long-standing sanctions
More

Honduran President Links Border Crisis to US Policy Divide

Human, drug traffickers 'perversely' exploit confusion about US immigration policy, Juan Orlando Hernandez tells reporters on Capitol Hill
More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US
More

House Republicans Present Border Plan for Child Migrant Crisis

Proposal, they say, offers alternative to emergency funding requested by President Obama to deal with massive influx of illegals
More

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

John Berry spoke at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
More