Competitors from snowless nations
Medals at the Winter Olympics are always won by athletes from countries that have snow. This makes sense: a boy from Austria is more likely to end up being an alpine skier than a boy from, say, Cuba. That doesn’t mean athletes from snowless countries aren’t trying to win medals at the Winter Olympics. The most famous may be the Jamaican bobsleigh team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics, as they were made immortal by the movie “Cool Runnings“. That team did not actually complete the competition, but in 1994 the four-man crew from Jamaica finished a respectable 14th (in a field of 30), which was then also the best performance by competitors from a snowless nation.
But the Jamaican bobbers are not the best Winter Olympians from a snowless nation. First, in Torino 2006, they were dethroned by a bobsleigh duo from Monaco. The Monegasque bob had traditionally been piloted by Prince Albert but Patrice Servelle and Jérémy Bottin did much better than their monarch had ever done, placing 12th. Jamaica regained the throne in 2010, however. The island’s first ever skier, Errol Kerr, place 9th in the inaugural version of the ski cross event, just missing the semi-finals.
In all, 23 snowless nations (or with occasional snow at best) have competed at the Winter Olympics. These are their best results:
1. Jamaica – Errol Kerr (Freestyle skiing, Ski cross, 2010) – 9th
2. Monaco – Patrice Servelle & Jérémy Bottin (Bobsleigh, Two, 2006) – 12th
3. US Virgin Islands – Anne Abernathy (Luge, Singles, 1988) – 16th
4. Hong Kong – Han Yue Shuang (Short track, 1,000 m, 2006) – 18th
5. Bermuda – Patrick Singleton (Skeleton, 2006) – 19th
6. Uruguay – Gabriel Hottegrindre (Alpine skiing, Slalom, 1998) – 24th
7. Puerto Rico – Liston Bochette, José Ferrer, Jorge Bonnet & Douglas Rosado (Bobsleigh, Four, 1994) – 25th
8. Netherlands Antilles – Bart Carpentier Alting & Bart Drechsel (Bobsleigh, Two, 1988) – 29th
9. Trinidad & Tobago – Gregory Sun & Curtis Harry (Bobsleigh, Two, 1998) – 32nd
10. Philippines – Raymund Ocampo (Luge, Singles, 1988) – 35th
11. American Samoa – Faauuga Muagututia & Brad Kiltz (Bobsleigh, Two, 1994) – 39th
12. Madagascar – Mathieu Razanakolona (Alpine skiing, Giant slalom, 2006) – 39th
13. British Virgin Islands – Erroll Fraser (Speed skating, 500 m, 1984) – 40th
14. Costa Rica – Arturo Kinch (Alpine skiing, Donhill, 1980) – 41st
15. Senegal – Lamien Guèye (Alpine skiing, Downhill, 1992) – 45th
16. Ghana – Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong (Alpine skiing, Slalom, 2010) – 47th
17. Honduras – Jenny Palacios-Stillo (Cross country skiing, 15 km, 1992) – 50th
18. Fiji – Laurence Thomas (Alpine skiing, Giant slalom, 2002) – 55th
19. Swaziland – Keith Fraser (Alpine skiing, Giant slalom, 1992) – 63rd
20. Cameroon – Isaac Menyoli (Cross country skiing, Sprint, 2002) – 65th
21. Thailand – Prawat Nagvajara (Cross country skiing, Sprint, 2002) – 66th
22. Cayman Islands – Dow Travers (Alpine skiing, Giant slalom, 2010) – 69th
23. Guam – Judd Bankert (Biathlon, 10 km, 1988) – 71st
(List of countries without snow was taken from here.)
Of course, not all of these athletes grew up in a snowless country. Mathieu Razanakolona, for example, grew up in Canada but competed for Madagascar on account of his Malagasy father, while Erroll Fraser and Anne Abernathy were both born in the US.
The list of snowless countries competing at the Winter Olympics will likely expand in Sochi. Countries without snowfall that will possibly début in 2014 are Eritrea, Malta, Paraguay, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe.