Staten Island man, 46, and wife will ski for Dominica at Sochi Olympics

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UPDATE (Feb. 26): Some of Gary di Silvestri’s background information has been disputed. Di Silvestri has not responded to a text message and voicemail request for a response to claims that information he provided was untrue.

The first-ever Winter Olympians for the Caribbean island of Dominica will be Gary di Silvestri, a 46-year-old originally from Staten Island, N.Y., and his wife, Angelica Morrone di Silvestri, 48, born and raised in Italy.

It’s not the first time an athlete with U.S. roots has competed for another nation. Nor is it the first time a husband and wife have gone to the Olympics together. And there have been older Olympians, though not too many.

But add them all up?

“It will be historic,” Dominica Olympic Committee secretary general Thomas Dorsett said. “Our tourism department will make a field day of that.”

Di Silvestri was a two-time state wrestling champion at Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island. His wrestling career ended on a drive home with his father after a meet his senior year.

A drunk driver collided with them, head on. Di Silvestri wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

“I went through the windshield,” he said.

He spent two days in a coma and two weeks in a hospital but escaped without permanent injury.

Di Silvestri rowed for a national championship team at Georgetown, where he was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist. He didn’t get the scholarship, but he did spend a year in Italy, where he met a Rome University student who would become his wife in 1990.

Upon graduating, he became a Wall Street financial analyst, spent about five years in New York and four years in London before he and his wife returned to the U.S. to run his own company, Deutsche Suisse. In their free time, they skied.

“We had started cross-country skiing maybe 15 years ago, at a very leisurely level, and then as we became more proficient, we loved it,” Morrone di Silvestri said. “We started training and looking for opportunities to race and improve our technique. It’s been a passion for many years now.”

It’s been truly competitive for about seven years.

“No kids, no pets,” Di Silvestri said. “This would not be possible with kids.”

They now live and train in Canmore, Canada, home of the Nordic skiing events at the 1988 Olympics.

They first visited Dominica on holiday six or seven years ago. They have done philanthropic work, mostly in other Caribbean countries, funding children’s hospitals in needy areas. They had a friend at the nation’s Ross University School of Medicine, and it’s become a home when they’re not training.

“They call it the nature island, half tropical rain forest, half Caribbean beach,” Di Silvestri said. “The sand is black, not white. They have 1400m high peaks. It has everything. It has mountains. It has caves. It has hiking, beaches, beautiful crystal clear water, snorkeling, the whole bit. It’s untouched by tourism, relatively speaking.”

Dominica offered them citizenship as a thank you for the charitable work.

“It was kind of given to us,” Di Silvestri said. “It was nothing.”

In November 2012, the International Olympic Committee asked Dominica, among other nations, if it had any athletes it was considering for the Sochi Olympics, Di Silvestri said. There were few options.

The nation had sent no more than six athletes to each of the past five Summer Olympics but never a Winter Games. Dominica is roughly the size of Lexington, Ky., with 70,000 people and doesn’t dip below 60 degrees.

“They knew us, called us and said, ‘Guys, we want you to represent Dominica if you think you can qualify,'” Di Silvestri said. “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.'”

Di Silvestri began the process by starting the Dominica Ski Federation from scratch, using a constitution template given to them by the International Ski Federation. There were certainly doubts.

“I’m not exactly a spring chicken,” said Morrone di Silvestri, who skied on the Italian Alps as a child. “Can we do it?”

They were officially eligible beginning this season, and they furiously attempted to qualify. They entered lower-level Australia/New Zealand Cup, U.S. Super Tour, Nor-Am Cup and FIS races, finishing from 10th to 78th place.

Event organizers questioned them countless times after looking at athlete start lists with birth years next to names.

“’90, ’91, ’92, ’93, all of a sudden ’67, ’65, is there a typo here?” he said. “We’re kind of used to it.”

They were intimidated at first, but Di Silvestri qualified in December, and his wife did so last week in her last-chance race.

“One broken pole or a broken ski would have been the end of it,” Di Silvestri said.

They’re still finalizing travel arrangements but are confident they will be in Sochi and march in the Opening Ceremony. Di Silvestri will carry the flag.

They’ll compete on back-to-back days. The women’s 10km cross-country race is Feb .13, followed by the men’s 15km on Feb. 14. They’re going in with experienced mindsets, having already ordered Dominica pins to trade.

“Our coach said that’s going to be a hot commodity,” Di Silvestri said. “So we’re having them made up. They’re going to trade like currency, good as gold.”

U.S. skier overcomes cancer, makes Olympics

Shaun White, Chloe Kim lead Team USA award winners

Shaun White, Chloe Kim
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Shaun White and Chloe Kim swept the Team USA Awards just like they swept the halfpipe gold medals in PyeongChang.

The snowboarders were named the top U.S. male and female Olympians on Thursday night at an awards show in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the Team USA White House visit.

The women’s hockey team, which beat Canada in a gold-medal game shootout, earned the Olympic team title.

The awards, hosted by Mike Tirico, air on NBCSN on May 12 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET.

The athlete and team winners for the PyeongChang Olympics and Paralympics were determined by online fan voting (50 percent) and members of the Olympic and Paralympic family, including journalists (the other 50 percent).

White, 31, earned his third Olympic halfpipe title in four Games by attempting back-to-back double cork 1440s at a contest for the first time and landing them on his third and final run. White overtook Japanese Ayumu Hirano for the gold with 97.75 points.

Kim, 18 and at her first Olympics, injected far less drama into her final the previous day. Her first-run score of 93.75 would have been enough for gold, but she tacked on a 98.25-point victory lap on her finale with the first back-to-back 1080s by a woman at an Olympics.

The male and female Paralympian winners were both Nordic skiers. Dan Cnossen, a retired Navy SEAL, earned six medals after coming to PyeongChang without any podium finishes in 24 career Paralympic and world championships biathlon and cross-country skiing events. Oksana Masters earned five PyeongChang medals after dislocating her right elbow before the Games.

In 2014, the first edition of the Team USA Awards, Sochi slopestyle snowboarding gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg, luge bronze medalist Erin Hamlin and ice dance gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White took the Olympian honors.

In 2016, Michael PhelpsKatie Ledecky and the women’s gymnastics team were the Olympian winners.

2018 Team USA Awards nominees (WINNERS IN BOLD)
Male Olympian
Red Gerard, Gold, Snowboard Slopestyle
Shaun White, Gold, Snowboard Halfpipe — WINNER
David Wise, Gold, Ski Halfpipe
John-Henry Krueger, Silver, Short Track Speed Skating (1000m)
Chris Mazdzer, Silver, Luge (singles)

Female Olympian
Jamie Anderson, Gold and Silver, Snowboard Slopestyle, Big Air
Chloe Kim, Gold, Snowboard Halfpipe — WINNER
Mikaela Shiffrin, Gold and Silver, Alpine Skiing (giant slalom, combined)
Elana Meyers Taylor, Silver, Bobsled
Brittany Bowe, Bronze, Speed Skating (team pursuit)

Olympic Team
Jessie Diggins/Kikkan Randall, Gold, Cross-Country Skiing (team sprint)
Men’s Curling, Gold
Women’s Hockey, Gold — WINNER

Olympic Coach
Jason Cork, Cross-Country Skiing — WINNER

Phil Drobnick, Curling
Mike Jankowski, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding

Male Paralympian
Dan Cnossen, Gold, 4 Silvers, Bronze, Nordic Skiing — WINNER

Noah Elliott, Gold, Bronze, Snowboarding
Andrew Kurka, Gold, Silver, Alpine Skiing
Mike Schultz, Gold, Silver, Snowboarding
Andy Soule, Gold, Bronze, Nordic Skiing

Female Paralympian
Kendall Gretsch, 2 Golds, Nordic Skiing
Brenna Huckaby, 2 Golds, Snowboarding
Oksana Masters, 2 Golds, 2 Silvers, 1 Bronze, Nordic Skiing — WINNER
Brittani Coury, Silver, Snowboarding
Laurie Stephens, Bronze, Alpine Skiing

Paralympic Team
Sled Hockey, Gold — WINNER

Paralympic Coach
Gary Colliander, Nordic Skiing — WINNER

Guy Gosselin, Hockey
Graham Watanabe, Snowboarding

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USA Track and Field sets team for Penn Relays, live on NBC Sports

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World 100m champion Justin Gatlin headlines the U.S. roster for the Penn Relays, which air live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Friday
Penn Relays: 5-6 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday
Penn Relays: 12:30-3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold
Drake Relays: 3-5 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Gatlin is joined on the U.S. team for the Penn Relays in Philadelphia by NCAA 800m champion Raevyn Rogers, plus Michael Cherry and Aaliyah Brown, who were part of U.S. medal-winning relays at last summer’s world outdoor championships.

They will compete Saturday in USA vs. the World races in the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m and men’s and women’s sprint medleys.

Women 4x100m pool
Aaliyah Brown
Destinee Brown
Destiny Carter
Tawanna Meadows
Candace Hill
Kyra Jefferson

Women 4x400m pool
Jasmine Blocker
Kendra Chambers
Daina Harper
Kyra Jefferson
T’sheila Mungo
Raevyn Rogers
Kiah Seymour
Jaide Stepter

Men 4x100m pool
Leshon Collins
Jeff Demps
Justin Gatlin
Cordero Gray
Tevin Hester
Remontay Mcclain
Bryce Robinson
Blake Smith
Justin Walker

Men 4x400m pool
Michael Berry
Marcus Chambers
Michael Cherry
Kyle Collins
Najee Glass

Calvin Smith
Marqueze Washington

The schedule (p.m. ET):

Women’s 4x100m — 12:38
Men’s 4x100m — 12:50
Women’s Sprint Medley — 2
Men’s Sprint Medley — 2:10
Men’s 4x400m — 2:35
Women’s 4x400m — 2:52

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