Tue | May 17, 2022

Olympic skier Alexander looks to blaze path for youngsters

Published:Tuesday | January 18, 2022 | 8:59 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican alpine skier Benjamin Alexander
Jamaican alpine skier Benjamin Alexander
Alexander
Alexander
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Following his last-minute qualification to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics last Friday in Liechtenstein, Jamaica’s alpine skier, Benjamin Alexander, is now eyeing a role in the Jamaica Ski Federation (JSF). Alexander, who registered 154.14 points...

Following his last-minute qualification to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics last Friday in Liechtenstein, Jamaica’s alpine skier, Benjamin Alexander, is now eyeing a role in the Jamaica Ski Federation (JSF).

Alexander, who registered 154.14 points to achieve the below-160 points needed, sealed qualification with three days to spare.

He noted that his journey has inspired many, and he wants to assist young skiers who have a desire to represent Jamaica in making the transition. As a result, he wants an official role in the local ski federation.

“I would like a more formal role in the ski federation. I have already identified the next athletes who have Jamaican origins, who I have convinced to become Jamaican citizens so we can get them to compete for us at the highest level.

“They have been skiing since age of four and they are now 14, 15 years old. These are people I have inspired and want to get over the finish line.

“So if I can get a more formal role inside the federation, we can do great things together,” he said.

The United Kingdom-born former disc jockey has very slim expectations of his chances in Beijing, however. He hopes to inspire a younger generation as he strongly believes that if he can get youngsters with Jamaican backgrounds in the sport at an earlier age, Jamaica will have a chance of medalling at future games.

“I expect to finish at the back (Olympics). I am at a massive disadvantage. Athletes I will be competing against have been skiing for 25 years and probably had millions of dollars put into their training.

“Some will show up with 20 pairs of skis with full-time technicians to assess conditions and tell them which ski to wear for the day.

“I will show up with one ski, so I cannot compete against these guys. Impossible. But I can show it is possible to participate and blaze a path for Jamaicans to get involved in the sport much earlier,” he said.

He hopes to garner as much media attention as possible and inspire the next generation.

“Maybe I can inspire Jamaicans to put their children on skis at two and three years old so we can get them into the Olympics. We need to get Jamaicans on skis early to have a real shot at medalling and doing well,” he said.

Acting president of the JSF, Andrew Salm, who has filled the role since his father passed away last September, said he would welcome Benjamin’s involvement in an official capacity and that he will be speaking with him after the games to see what role he can play.

“Benjie (Alexander) is now focusing on performing at the Games. When he has finished performing, whatever role he wants to play, we will take a look at that.

“He has a huge load of energy and passion and is a huge inspiration. So whatever role he can play would be greatly appreciated,” he said.

Salm, himself a former national skier, is looking to continue in the post and build on his father’s legacy.

“As acting president, I will be looking to continue his legacy with renewed energy and focus and try to encourage young athletes who potentially can represent Jamaica in the future.

“We are putting together a team, and we have a capable executive to assist me in recruiting and managing talent like Benjie.

“So as soon as it is possible (to hold an AGM), we will, but I am working with the Jamaica Olympic Association to sort that out,” he added.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com