Along with friends and neighbors, I’m rooting for all of the athletes representing the US and Canada and, most importantly, the Adirondack North Country, Vermont and eastern Ontario and Quebec. These are my people!
By now, I hope you know we have on-going coverage of regional athletes at Sochi, with photographer Nancie Battaglia and Adirondack Daily Enterprise reporter Chris Knight. Brian Mann is team captain, providing background info, interviews and blog posts.
But I will never forget the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary when the Jamaicans competed for the first time in the winter games with a bob sled team. If you are old enough to remember those games, you know what a ray of sunshine (Caribbean) those guys brought to the competition. And they’ve kept at it. Except for 2006, they’ve mounted bobsled teams for each of the Winter Olympics since 1988 (though they didn’t make the cut at Vancouver), and they’re back this year.
So, I was wondering if there are other, well, Winter Olympic anomalies: participants from countries one simply doesn’t associate with sporting activities on snow and ice.
Here’s the list I came up with–which I’m thinking of as the Sunshine Team. It may not be complete, but at least we know the Jamaicans have succeeded in being role models for a few other equatorial competitors. And, if you’d like to see the list of all countries competing this month in Sochi, including links to pages about each of the countries’ Olympic histories, go here.
In alphabetical order, I found these unlikely Winter Olympic countries (keeping in mind that some of the athletes representing Caribbean countries may actually hail from northern places):
Bermuda, has one team member competing in cross-country skiing.
British Virgin Islands have one team member competing in the men’s halfpipe.
Hong Kong’s Pan-To Barton will compete in the short-track speed skating events.
Togo debuts at the Winter Olympics with 2 athletes: one in alpine skiing, the other in cross-country skiing.
Zimbabwe debuts with one athlete in alpine skiing.
Then there are what’s referred to as “Independent Olympic Participants.” These athletes compete without an official national affiliation. This year, all three are from India and are competing as independents because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended the Indian Olympic Association from the games because of “non-adherence to IOC rules, and corruption.”
Finally, this opposite anomaly: Mongolia, which I think of as very much in the winter groove, has only two athletes in the mix this year, both of whom are cross-country skiers. (I’m secretly rooting for them, too.)