So far, so bad as outsiders feel Winter Olympic chill

They came from far flung corners of the world with hope in their hearts.

They’ll be heading home with their tails between their legs.

It’s been a tough week for the no-hopers of the Winter Olympics but the super-flops of Turin will pack away plenty of positives in their suitcases.

Christelle Laura Douibi became Algeria’s first ever winter Olympian and despite finishing in 68th place in the women’s skiing downhill, and over 13sec behind winner Michaela Dorfmeister, the 20-year-old was looking on the bright side.

She dedicated her appearance at the daunting San Sicario course to her father Mohammed who died 18 months ago.

“If he was alive he would be very, very proud of me,” said Douibi. “It is a victory for me. I realised my dream.
I was worrying about not missing a gate or falling down. I did it.”

Iran’s Alidad Saveh Shemshaki is also a budding Alpine skier and is awaiting his opportunity in the slalom after failing to finish the men’s combined.

“The piste was very slow. There’s not much snow but overall it’s fantastic,” said Shemshaki who doesn’t worry about home-sickness.

“I brought some Iranian music with me so I feel at home.”

Ethiopia too is represented at a winter Games for the first time but Robel Teklemariam has endured a nightmare stay in Italy—and he hasn’t even competed yet.

The 31-year-old was one of 12 athletes banned for five-days for having excessive levels of haemoglobin in their blood by the international skiing federation (FIS) last week.

But a second blood test has put him in the clear and he will line up in Friday’s 15km.

Indian lugist Shiva Keshawan, in his third Games, was furious that he was overlooked as flag-bearer in the opening ceremony and his mood wasn’t helped when he finished in 25th place in his event.

“There were some officials who turned up at the Olympic village that I’ve never seen in six years claiming to be the representatives of the Indian Luge Association,” said the 24-year-old.

“They are shameless.”

Brazilian cross-country skier Jacqueline Mourao played a bit-part at the Games finishing in 67th place in the 10km, over eight minutes behind the winner.

Compatriot Nikolai Hentsch was disqualified after the first round of the men’s combined but he was still smiling.

“How can you not enjoy yourself here?,” he asked.

“The sun is out, the piste is good and we are surrounded by beautiful women.”

Bermuda’s lone representative will again skeleton competitor Patrick Singleton who was 25th out of 26 in practice ahead of Friday’s final.

Also eagerly waiting for his chance is 19-year-old Madagascan skier Mathieu Razanakolona in the slalom and giant slalom.

The Canadian resident insists he is not just using the African island as a flag of convenience in order to get to Italy.

“Some people think we are just using Madagascar as an excuse to get to the Olympics,” said Razanakolona.

“But this is not about skiing, it’s about the development of our country where half the population live below the poverty line”. - AFP

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