News / Americas

Jamaica Edges Haiti in Caribbean Slalom Duel

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Crash

Police say singer was alone in his jaguar when he hit a post before sunrise Thursday
More

NY Times: US Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Declines

Obama has come under increasing pressure from immigration advocates who have accused him of moving too slowly on immigration reform
More

Argentina's Fight with Bondholders Reaches US Supreme Court

The case concerns whether investors can force banks with which Argentina does business to disclose information about the country's non-US assets
More

As Fires Die Down, Chileans Return to Ravaged Valparaiso

Many of victims in the city, part gritty port and part colorful retreat, were poor people in houses perched high on the city's remote hills
More