Benjamin Alexander: Jamaica skier inspired by bobsled team

A report by Charlie Parker for The Times of London.

A British born former DJ has made history by becoming Jamaica’s first alpine skier at the Winter Olympics.

Inspired by the underdog story of the country’s bobsled team who competed at the games in 1988, Benjamin Alexander said he was aiming for “survival” rather than a spot on the podium.

He took to the slopes in Beijing yesterday and achieved his goal of finishing the race, placing 46th out of the 46 skiers who managed to complete both runs of the men’s giant slalom. Poor weather conditions at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre saw 41 athletes on the starting list fail to finish.

Alexander placed 46th out of the 46 skiers who managed to complete both runs

Alexander placed 46th out of the 46 skiers who managed to complete both runs

Alexander, 38, who grew up in Northamptonshire but has Jamaican heritage, only started skiing six years ago and has been mentored by Dudley Stokes, the former captain of the nation’s bobsledding team immortalised by the film Cool Runnings.

“I’ve performed better than some of the best in the world, they crashed, and that’s a fact,” Alexander said, before adding: “There was no desire to try to come here and be competitive.”

He finished in three minutes 18.52 seconds, completing the course far behind the rest of his rivals. He was one minute and ten seconds slower than the Swiss skier Marco Odermatt, who took the gold. “You cannot catch up with someone who’s been doing something for 20 years if you’ve just started doing it two years ago,” Alexander said. “I’m just happy that we got over the line.”

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