Benjamin Alexander has appealed to more aspiring skiers from diverse backgrounds to get into the sport after his previously unthinkable feat of finishing the men’s giant slalom event.
The DJ-turned-skier who became Jamaica’s first Winter Olympic skier reflected on his Olympic experience after finishing 46th overall on a day when a blizzard wreaked havoc on the slopes.
Marco Odermatt eventually won gold, but with time claiming a number of DNFs, Alexander’s achievement was all the more impressive, especially considering the UK-born athlete had only started the sport until the age of 32.
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Now 38, Alexander was thrilled to fulfill what he previously called a “wild dream”.
“The conditions were tough, to say the least. 50% of the peloton didn’t finish and there were some pretty horrible crashes, which brings it back to, you know, this is the real deal. People get hurt doing that, so to be sitting here with no broken limbs and having completed both runs, which a lot of my friends haven’t done, I’m grinning from ear to ear.
Alexander, who has a Jamaican father and grew up in Wellingborough in the UK, chose to represent the West Indian nation in an event no one had previously attended.
He qualified for the inaugural Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein in January despite lacking a full-time coach.
“For me it was never about winning,” he added. “I don’t want my accomplishments or my qualification to take anything away from people who have done this their whole lives. The International Olympic Committee sets a fairly low minimum threshold for a nation’s first athlete. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult.
“But I want people to understand that you don’t have to come from wealth, you don’t have to be of a certain ethnicity, and you don’t even have to be born near the mountains. I had nothing a normal ski racer has and I speak to you today as an Olympian who made history.
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“There is so much discipline in these young ski racers – I am in awe of that. My children, if I have any, will definitely be ski racers even if they don’t compete, just to understand the discipline of the sport.
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