Latin America's Growing Presence at Winter Olympics

Friday, February 21, 2014 - 14:00

Though Latin Americans have (understandably) received minimal coverage in the Winter Olympics held in Sochi, there is an upward trend in the region of participation in the winter games. Outside of Latin America, the collective image of the region’s climate and geography consists of jungles, deserts, and beaches, forgetting the formidable Andes mountains that stretch over 4,500 miles along the west coast of the continent, comprising one of the longest and tallest mountain ranges in the world. The Andes provide ideal training conditions for the many skiing events at the Winter Olympics, and explain why the vast majority of Latin American participants at Sochi are skiiers.

In total, Latin America has sent more than 30 athletes to Sochi, and though this figure is dwarfed by the 400+ participants from the United States and Canada, it represents an increase from the 2010 Vancouver games. Predictably, representative Olympians to Sochi in 2014 have been from Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, although there has been participation throughout the region.

In total, Brazil is represented at the Winter Olympics by 13 athletes, who participate in various skiing events, snowboarding, bobsled, and iceskating. Brazil has sentolympians to the winter games since the 1992 Albertville games, when alpine skier Evelyn Schuler competed in the giant slalom. Both Chile and Argentina are represented by six skiers each, and some spectators point to Chile’s freestyle skiier Dominique Ohaco as Latin America’s best bet for medaling in Sochi. Representing Paraguay’s Winter Olympic debut, the freestyle skier Julia Marino was adopted as an infant by an American couple, and holds dual nationality. Venezuela also has one Winter Olympics representative, the 43 year old alpine skier, Antonio Jose Pardo Andretta, who used to work in finance but has taken the opportunity presented by the economic downturn to pursue his dream. Three Peruvians are participating in the games: Roberto Carcelen, a cross country skier who made Peru’s debut in Vancouver in 2010, and the siblings Ornella and Manfred Reyes, both competing in slalom. Perhaps the most charismatic Latin American in the games, Hubertus von Hohenlohe is Mexico’s sole competitor, and at 55, as Sochi’s oldest athlete, hopes to encourage other Mexicans to compete in the games.

Despite Latin America’s increased participation in the Winter Games, the region has yet to earn a medal. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil rapidly approaching, it is clear that football is still the priority. Hopefully, by the 2018 Winter Olympic games held in PyeongChang, more Latin American athletes will qualify and have a better chance at securing a medal.

 

Sources:

-Blue Planet Biomes. “Andes Mountains.” http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/andes.htm.

-Rudich, Tomas. Europe Online Magazine. “FEATURE: Winter Olympics: Latin America’s mission impossible?” http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/feature-winter-olympics-latin-americas-mission-impossibleby-tomas-rudich-dpa_315526.html

-Puente, Teresa. Chicago Now. “Latin Americans Break Ice at Sochi.” http://www.chicagonow.com/chicanisima-latino-politics-news-and-culture/2014/02/latin-americans-break-ice-at-sochi/

-Sochi 2014 Olympics. http://www.sochi2014.com/en

-CNN. “Is Mexican Skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe the Olympic Games’ most interesting athlete?” http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/12/is-mexican-skier-hubertus-von-hohenlohe-the-olympic-games-most-interesting-athlete/

-Olympic.org. PyeonChang 2018. http://www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018-winter-olympics

 

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