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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Vatican Mediation in US-Cuba Relations Applauded

Statement confirmed that Vatican diplomats facilitated talks between two countries, 'resulting in solutions acceptable to both parties'
More

Latin America Welcomes Obama's Move to Restore US-Cuba Ties

Regional leaders say initiative would further ease ideological battle that has divided Americas for decades
More

Video US Not Ruling Out White House Visit by Cuban President Castro

Comment comes a day after US announced normalization of relations with the communist-led nation after a half-century diplomatic shift
More

US-Cuba Move Ends Decades of Island's Isolation

Cuban revolution, outreach to Soviets set off years of antipathy between Washington, Havana
More

Colombia's FARC Rebels Declare Conditional Unlimited Ceasefire

Group says it is also demanding high-profile certification of its ceasefire through the UN, Red Cross or regional intergovernmental organization
More

American Lawmakers, Others Split on US-Cuba Moves

Some praise approach; Florida Senator Rubio denounces ‘victory for oppressive Cuban government’
More