America likes to invent sports and force them into the Olympics. It makes us happy to see our country win more medals, and see the French fall down a lot. The 2010 Winter Olympics will feature skier cross, which is a hybrid of cross-country skiing, and obstacle course, and awesomeness. You guessed it: it got its start at the X Games. But what nobody could have guessed, unless they went to the movies in the early 90s, is that Jamaica is planning on fielding a team.
(Oh, like you could’ve resisted running this picture.)
Errol Kerr and Gregg Samuels, the entire Jamaican ski team, have a couple of disadvantages. Their names are not nearly as memorable as Sanka Coffie or Yul Brenner, and they come from a country without snow. They’re getting around this handicap by training in the US, as well as with “dry land exercises.” And if I were any good at photoshop, you’re damn right I’d post a picture of two men with 2×4s strapped to their feet getting pulled by a team of dogs down a city sidewalk. (Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s push-cart time - after the jump.)
Kerr actually placed fifth in skier cross at the most recent Winter X Games, though competing for the United States (he has dual citizenship). He says he wants to compete for Jamaica because of his ties to the island:
“I want to represent the land of my father,” he said of his deceased parent. “That’s the dream. I don’t have any money of my own. Right now, I have the financial backing of the US ski team and all the support of the US team and we travel around the world for free,” Kerr said.
“In order for me to leave that cruise ship, I want to build something here and I think it would be way better to come here and do it as I wouldn’t just be doing it for myself, I’d be doing it for the whole island.”
The cynic in me says he just might have a better chance getting through the national qualifying stages in Jamaica than in the US.
The problem now is funding a sport that could be a hard sell to most Jamaicans. The year-round training takes place in California and New Zealand, which is understandable and understandably expensive. Equipment companies and Busta Soda have donated gear and cash, but the team still needs to come up with $20,000 a month for training. May I suggest investing in a Golden Krust franchise?
And what of Bryant Gumbel, who famously dismissed the Winter Olympics, saying “Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention?” I can only assume the Jamaican ski team, combined with the Jamaican dog sled team, will make his head explode.