‘Cool Runnings’ on snow? Former DJ hopes to be Jamaica’s first Olympic Alpine skier

0 Comments

A former DJ wants to be the first Jamaican to compete in Alpine skiing at the Olympics.

Benjamin Alexander, a 37-year-old with a British mom and a Jamaican dad, spent the last two winters racing on the lower-level International Ski Federation (FIS) circuit in a bid to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

“There are a lot of jokes about Jamaican on ice, ‘Cool Runnings’ and all of that fun stuff,” Alexander, who was born and raised an hour north of London, told NBC Sports. “That’s part of how this whole story started, just as a joke.”

Alexander studied electrical engineering at University College London. He booked a one-way ticket for Asia three days after his last exam, tried modeling and ended up in finance, he said on the SkiRacing.com podcast.

He later spent a decade DJing, visiting 30 countries and Burning Man 10 consecutive years, before being first exposed to skiing on Presidents Day weekend 2016.

That’s when he had the opportunity to ski in Whistler, British Columbia, while working a gig he called “a swingers’ party.” Alexander estimated he fell 20 times on his first run and, by the end of that first day, trimmed it to seven falls in one try.

The following year, he skied again at Mammoth Mountain in California. Then he attended the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics as a spectator.

Alexander noticed that Jamaica, a strong Summer Olympic nation thanks to its sprinters, had just three athletes at those Winter Games. None were skiers. All time, one Jamaican has skied at the Olympics — Errol Kerr in ski cross in 2010.

“I was looking for the next challenge,” Alexander said. “Why not try to reinvent ‘Cool Runnings?'”

He received tips from retired American racer Gordon Gray and mentorship from Dudley Stokes, the driver of Jamaica’s 1988 Olympic four-man bobsled that inspired the 1993 Disney film. His first conversation with Stokes was two hours, and they have spoken on a weekly basis.

Alexander has competed in eight lower-level giant slaloms in the U.S. and Canada, finishing last in all of them. His best result was his most recent, finishing within 14 seconds of the next-to-last skier.

It’s still possible to qualify for the Olympics. Some ski disciplines have looser qualification criteria than other sports.

It most famously resulted in Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless, oiled-up Tongan flag bearer from the Summer Olympics in Rio, picking up cross-country, qualifying for PyeongChang and finishing in 114th place on this date three years ago.

More than 100 men raced the 2018 Olympic giant slalom, including skiers from non-traditional winter sports nations Brazil, South Africa and Cyprus. In the women’s GS, Sabrina Simader became Kenya’s first Olympic Alpine skier.

Alexander believes that his Olympic qualification could encourage future representation in the sport from other Jamaicans.

“I hope that people from ethnic minorities realize that they are not out of place in winter sports,” he said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Ukraine Olympic champion auctions gold medals to support his country

Yuriy Cheban
Getty
0 Comments

Sprint canoeist Yuriy Cheban, Ukraine’s most decorated male Olympian, is auctioning his two gold medals and one bronze medal to support his country’s defense and recovery efforts amid the war with Russia.

“It was one of the best moments of my life that can be compared only with the birth of my child,” Cheban posted specifically about his repeat 200m gold at his last Olympics in Rio in 2016. “This Olympic finish left a great memory forever in the world history and in the hearts of Ukraine.

“Time to move on, I would like these medals to benefit Ukrainians once again.”

Cheban, a 36-year-old who coached Ukraine canoeists at the Tokyo Games, took 500m bronze in 2008 before his 200m golds in 2012 and 2016, all in individual races.

He and boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko are the only men to win two Olympic gold medals for Ukraine, which began competing independently in 1994. Cheban is the only man to win three total Olympic medals for Ukraine, according to Olympedia.org.

Swimmer Yana Klochkova won the most medals for Ukraine — four golds and five total.

All proceeds from the sales will go to Ukraine’s Olympic Circle charity, according to SCP Auctions.

Olympic Circle was created by sportsmen to help Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine, fight Russian occupants, according to SCP.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Alpine skiing TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin, Marco Odermatt
Getty
2 Comments

NBC Sports and Peacock combine to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season, including races on the World Cup, which starts this weekend.

Coverage begins with the traditional season-opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, this Saturday and Sunday, streaming live on Peacock.

The first of four stops in the U.S. — the most in 26 years — is Thanksgiving weekend with a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont. The men’s tour visits Beaver Creek, Colorado the following week, as well as Palisades Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado after worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France.

NBC Sports platforms will broadcast all four U.S. stops in the Alpine World Cup season, plus four more World Cups in other ski and snowboard disciplines. All Alpine World Cups in Austria will stream live on Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who last year won her fourth World Cup overall title, is the headliner. Shiffrin, who has 74 career World Cup race victories, will try to close the gap on the only Alpine skiers with more: Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). Shiffrin won an average of five times per season the last three years and is hopeful of racing more often this season.

On the men’s side, 25-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt returns after becoming the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

2022-23 Alpine Skiing World Cup Broadcast Schedule
Schedule will be added to as the season progresses. All NBC Sports TV coverage also streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Date Coverage Network/Platform Time (ET)
Sat., Oct. 22 Women’s GS (Run 1) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 7:05 a.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Men’s GS (Run 1) — Soelden Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden Peacock 7 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 Women’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 6 a.m.
Women’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 12 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 Men’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 10 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 19 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 20 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4:15 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 Men’s DH — Lake Louise (PPD) Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 Women’s GS (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 27 Women’s SL (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 2 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek CNBC, Peacock 4 p.m.*
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 4 Women’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 1 p.m.
Men’s SG — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*

*Delayed broadcast.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!