Sat | Sep 23, 2017

One on One | Fire on Ice - Bobsled hopeful talks love for Jamaica and Olympic dream

Published:Sunday | December 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMRachid Parchment
Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian (left), driver for Jamaica's two-woman bobsled team share some lense time with teammate and brakewoman Carrie Russell - the World Championships relay gold medal winner, recently.
Jazmine Fenlator - Victorian (right) posing alongside a two-man sled with her husband and male team driver Surf Fenlator-Victorian.
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Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian is the pilot of Jamaica's two-member female bobsled team, and is looking to make history by becoming one of Jamaica's first-ever women to compete in the Winter Games at the 2018 instalment in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She previously drove for the United States and, in her time there, she obtained a silver medal while competing with former American sprinter Lolo Jones.

Fenlator-Victorian then switched allegiance to Jamaica in 2015. She was able to do this because, although she has a mother of German, Polish and Latvian roots, her father hails from Cave in Westmoreland. She spent some time talking to One-On-One about her background in the sport and her goals heading into the 2018 Games.

RACHID PARCHMENT: You started out your athletic career as a shot putter. What led to the switch to bobsledding?

JAZMINE FENLATOR-VICTORIAN: Yeah, I actually started in track and field. I was recruited to college as a multi-eventer and ended my career as a shot put/discus/hammer thrower. What led me to bobsled was that my college coach actually recommended it to me, ending my senior year right before I was trying to qualify for NCAA Championships. He mentioned that my skill sets being strong, explosive and fast for a short distance could translate over, so he actually submitted my athletics rÈsumÈ to the US programme in the spring time of 2007, and by fall, I was invited to a tryout.

RP: Why did you switch to Jamaica?

JFV: I was approached early in my career by the Jamaican bobsled team because I have dual citizenship, but I was already in an emerging elite programme with the US, so I decided to stay.

But I've always had the desire to represent both nations as well. I think it's important for children, - even adults, to know that there's more opportunities than what you are told that you have, as well as to live outside the box.

Also, I think it's important, not only just for my generation, but for my kids and other people who are dual citizens or of mixed cultures to embrace all of who they are.

To represent Jamaica is a dream come true for me. I didn't know it was an opportunity when I was younger. I love my heritage, where I'm from, who I am because of that, and I think that if I can represent them on the world stage, then that's a goal I've always wanted to do, so I'm super excited that I have this opportunity.

RP: Were you apprehensive about coming to represent Jamaica and what was it like when you came here and saw the facilities available to train here?

JFV: I didn't have apprehensions for my decision to transition to Jamaica. I've had a very good relationship with the president of the federation [Dudley Stokes] and the athletes over the course of my career and I've trained with them, not in Jamaica, but around the world. So I knew the people, the culture, the hard work and the ethics.

I also knew about our funding and that it would be different than Team USA's.

When I've been to Jamaica and trained, I love it! Warm weather all the time! It's amazing! Just going back to the simple life, the simple training that makes big gains is a breath of fresh air, rather than worrying about all these details and putting money on expensive equipment just to have the basics.

The close-knit group of athletes that I'm with is just amazing. I'm motivated every day by Carrie Russell, my brakeman, my teammates that have been with the programme for years and what they've overcome personally and athletically.

It pushes me at a different level that I haven't had in a very long time. It's exciting and also a learning experience and I can't wait to keep growing.

RP:You mentioned Carrie as a motivator, but she also thinks of you in the same way

JFV: She's a great person and teammate. I'm so lucky to have her join me on this adventure to victory and to make history.

RP: Obviously, you're referring to qualifying for Pyeongchang 2018. How much pressure is there on you to eclipse the first-ever Jamaican team to qualify for a Winter Games in 1988, especially with their legacy somewhat depicted by the movie Cool Runnings?

JFV: We're looking, as the next generation, to kind of make our own mark, develop our own type of phrase, as you call it. Carrie and I say that we're fire on ice.

We're the new generation, we're the hottest 'ting', and we're 'bout to light it up on ice.

We're super excited for that opportunity and with performances coming up, hopefully, we can build and build on that phrase, as well as show that the next generation is here. We're bigger, badder, faster, and building on what our predecessors have already started.