Today's Date: 02 July 2016
Last Updated: 11 January 2016 17:07:40 EST
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Travers justified his Olympic berth

Dow Travers

WHISTLER - Dow Travers can hold his head high as Cayman’s first ever Winter Olympian who actually managed to complete the gruelling giant slalom course with two excellent runs in Canada on Tuesday.

Many did not finish, including Bode Miller, who missed a gate and pulled up on the first run. Miller has won a clutch of medals in a glittering Olympic career but only his first gold just two days before. Travers will forever have the satisfaction of ‘beating’ the celebrated American.

Travers negotiated the gates superbly at Whistler Creekside, finishing his first run in 1 minute 29.39 seconds to move from 101st up to 75th. The 22-year-old geo-biology student at Brown University, Rhode Island, moved up the standings again on his second run to finish 69th with an overall time of 3.02.89, which was 25 seconds behind the gold medallist Carlo Janka of Switzerland, but no less an achievement. The Norwegians Kjetil Jansrud and Askel Lund Svindal took silver and third respectively.

The top skiers are full-timers, born into the sport with all the resources imaginable. Travers only started skiing seriously at 14 but has to juggle it with studies and snatching practice time for a few weeks a year when not in Cayman.

“It was a great honour to represent my country,” Travers said. “We have a long line of great summer athletes and it’s wonderful that we can translate that to the slopes here. My second run was a little slower but I was a little tired and had to deal with a little fog. I’m inexperienced but will hopefully improve in the future. I’m pleased that I moved up 32 spots, coming from the back of the pack.

“There was a huge amount of adrenaline at the start and the best part was coming to the finish line. I don’t really think it counts as beating Bode Miller and I’m sure he’ll ask for a rematch!”

Representing Cayman has made Travers a media curiosity. The comparisons with the Jamaican bobsled team are inevitable.

“Everyone has been incredibly friendly here. It’s not like the Cool Runnings film when everybody’s out to get each other. It’s been a great experience so far. Cayman and Jamaica were the same country, I believe, until 58 years ago so we have a lot of close links and ties.”

dow travers family
Travers Family: Dow, Mary-Anne, Dean and Anthony

Derivatives trader Jerry Beck cheered Travers on with a group of other Cayman residents. “It’s great to see some support from Cayman. I hear plenty of people back home were pretty excited,” added Travers.

“I’m at a massive handicap against everyone I race against. They train in excess of 200 days a year and I struggle to find 50. I qualified here, basically, on a hunt for snow. It was in Chile about a year and a half ago where I scored my first qualifying result, which is set in place by the International Olympic Committee. I live in Cayman but basically go round the planet searching snow, mainly in Aspen, Colorado. Whenever I’m not racing for Brown I’m in Aspen.”

Dow’s father Anthony Travers is chairman of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange and the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association. The skier’s mother, Mary-Anne, spends much of the year in a family house in Aspen where brothers Dillon, 18, and Dean, 13, enjoy a lot more skiing than Dow.

His initial Olympic experience has been a marvellous one. “It’s great how friendly everyone has been and my best moment was yesterday when I was free skiing. It was my first time ever on a nice, hard, world class hill and I couldn’t stop smiling afterwards.”

An interesting aside is that Dow could one day set another Olympic mark because rugby sevens will be introduced into the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil and having played for Cayman’s Under-19 and U20 sides in sevens and 15s, he could be collecting more Olympic kudos. He is a wing and fullback in 15s and prop in sevens. (When an English reporter heard this he asked Travers if he has any British ancestry so that he could be poached for the struggling England side!) But Dow won’t renounce his Cayman passport. “If we win the Caribbean Championships, it’s a matter of progressing in the tournaments to qualify for that.”

So what’s next for the talented all-rounder? “I’ll be going back to Brown and playing rugby in April, then the rugby Caribbean Championships and Central American and Caribbean Games in the summer. Then I’ll go off to South America for a few weeks to train on the slopes again. I’ll definitely try to get back to the Olympics in four years.

“My brothers live in Aspen so they’ll have the start offs there that I didn’t. Dean is actually coming on pretty well. He was second in the Junior Olympics last year and here in the Whistler Cup he came third, a huge international event. So if he hasn’t booted me out of my spot then you’ll be seeing me in 2014.”

Anthony Travers said: “We’re very happy for Dow. It was a very solid result. He started 101st and moved all the way up to 69th and I think that’s a tremendous performance. There’s no question he could have gone a little faster but he did the right thing. He was very solid through the turns and showed nice form and he finished, which was the crucial thing. Bode Miller didn’t have the best of days!

“The most important thing here is that Dow substantially improved his International Ski Federation points. That was a personal best by a very long way. You can’t ask for more than to go to the Olympics and provide a personal best.”
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