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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Vazquez Is Favorite to Win Uruguay Presidential Vote

Leftist ruling party candidate buoyed by widespread affection for country's outgoing leader, strong economic growth
More

Brazil's Rousseff Struggles to Limit Petrobras Scandal's Damage

President expects bribery scandal at state-run oil company to deteriorate in coming months, aides say, with arrests possible for some political allies
More

Mexico, Central America Hail Obama's Immigration Reform

Mexican leader calls US president's proposals 'most important measures taken in several decades'
More

Torturers of Chilean President's Father Sentenced to Jail

Judge sentences 2 retired colonels to prison for committing 'crime of torture resulting in the death' of Alberto Bachelet Martinez during early days of Pinochet dictatorship
More

NYC Immigrant Advocates Praise Obama Move, Vow to Continue Fight

Threatened refusal by Republican congressional leaders to cooperate will backfire politically, attorney insists
More

Obama's Immigration Action: What It All Means

Attorney Camille Mackler is director of legal initiatives at advocacy group New York Immigration Coalition, and she discusses specifics of the action
More