Chilean Skiing Has A Promising Future
By Dialogo February 17, 2010Chile, which has competed in fourteen Winter Olympic Games and never won a medal, aspires to ascend the Olympic podium in a few years in skiing, a sport with a “promising future” in the country, according to Luis Alberto Santa Cruz, president of the Chilean skiing federation. “At these Olympic Games (Vancouver-2010) we have three representatives, but in the near future we hope to have more, given the work that is going on with children and young people throughout the country,” Santa Cruz explained to AFP. “We’ve been working, and today we have around a thousand boys and girls between nine and fourteen years old training in various places. I believe that the future of skiing in Chile will be promising,” he emphasized. At the Whistler satellite location, where the Alpine skiing competitions are being held, Chile is represented by Jorge Mandru, Maiu Gayme, and the young Noelle Barahona, all of whom have experience at the previous Winter Olympics in Turin in 2006. According to the official, the three are competing in the downhill, Super-G, giant slalom, and combined events. Mandru and Gayme have already tried their luck in the downhill race and finished in 49th and 56th place, respectively. In both cases, they finished behind their results in Turin, although Santa Cruz explains that the conditions in the Italian city were very different from those at the Canadian site. “The two Games can’t be compared, since 55 competitors participated in Turin, and here there were 64, on a much more difficult course,” the federation president concluded. The best finish by a Chilean skier at the Winter Olympics was in the Japanese city of Nagano in 1998, where Thomas Grob finished eleventh in the combined event. Santa Cruz specified that there are high hopes in Vancouver for Barahona, a nineteen-year-old from Santiago, who has been training in Whistler for over a month and who was the youngest athlete at the Turin Games. He emphasized that in Chile “there’s a tradition of winter sports, above all Alpine skiing, since we have 5,000 km of snow-covered mountain ranges and good places to practice these sports.” Nevertheless, he indicated that in order to achieve a real leap forward, the material conditions in these centers need to be improved, as well as the transportation facilities that could make them accessible to the majority of those interested in the sport. He indicated that with the support of the Chilean Olympic Committee, the sports ministry, and private sponsorship, “it was possible to obtain resources for the preparation of these kids who are here in Vancouver, but we need a regular source for this assistance.” Chile’s efforts to develop this pursuit earned the country the right to host the Junior World Ski Championships, which will be held at Termas de Chillán, 1,600 meters above sea level and 490 km south of Santiago. Nevertheless, the Chilean official dismissed reports that have appeared on the Internet about the possibility that Chile could be a candidate to host the Winter Olympics. “That’s absolutely false. We have not been able to determine who put that page up on the Internet, but as president of the Chilean skiing federation, I categorically deny that Chile aspires to organize the Winter Olympic Games, or even to be a candidate for them,” he stressed.