The Caymans (and Brown’s) First Olympic Skier

The following story originally appeared in the Winter 2009-10 issue of the Brown Bear Magazine.


The Cayman Islands are known for their white beaches, all-inclusive resorts, and year-round warm sunny weather. The islands have sent a delegation to every Summer Olympic Games since 1984, but given its location, climate, and population, it isn’t too surprising that there has never been an Caymanian who has competed in the Winter Games.


Dow Travers ’11 is about to change that.


Travers, who didn’t start ski racing until he went to the British Ski Academy for a semester six years ago, will represent his native country in the Giant Slalom at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.


“It’s my first Olympics and I definitely hope it’s not my last,” said Travers, who took a year off from his studies at Brown to train at the Aspen Ski Club in Colorado last year. “I’m definitely on a steep learning curve. I’m going to try to do the best I can, given this is my first chance and I’m obviously at a huge handicap compared to everyone else.”


Travers, who skied on family vacations growing up, isn’t referring just to his relative inexperience in the sport. In early November, while most Olympic skiers were already on the slopes in preparation for Vancouver, Travers was back at Brown, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the region’s first snowfall.


He plays rugby in the fall to try to stay fit, and he traveled to Colorado in late November and early December to compete in a Nor-Am Cup race in Aspen. Travers will return to Aspen when fall exams are complete to continue training, but he plans to come back to the Northeast to participate in Brown’s pre-season training camp in early January. He will compete for Brown in the team’s first few carnivals before leaving for Vancouver in early February. The giant slalom will run from Feb. 21-25, and he will return soon after to catch up on his coursework at Brown.


While Travers didn’t face a whole lot of competition from within the Cayman Islands for his spot on the nation’s Olympic team, he did have to meet a qualifying standard. FIS, the international ski racing regulatory body, mandates that skiers must meet a qualifying benchmark twice in a 13-month period to qualify for the Games. Travers posted two qualifying results in a span of nine days in FIS races in Breckenridge, Colo., and Mammouth Mountain, Calif., in April, 2009.


“Just being around world class skiers and getting a chance to see what they do is incredible,” said Head Coach Mike LeBlanc. “He’s going to come back (after the Olympics) with a totally different perspective.”


While he will have a different perspective, Travers insists he will be just as committed to helping the Brown men’s ski team do its best.


“Coming back from the Olympics and competing for Brown might be a little surreal,” said Travers. “But no more surreal than seeing someone from the Cayman Islands in the Winter Olympics.”

 

Vancouver Sun feature on Dow Travers, click here