The former DJ born in Britain will become the first Jamaican alpine skier at the Winter Olympics

The former British-born DJ is set to become Jamaica’s first alpine skier at the Winter Olympics, just six years after he first became involved in the sport.

Benjamin Alexander, 38, whose father is a Jamaican, will be the only member of Jamaica’s national ski team at the Beijing Winter Olympics next month.

Growing up in Wellingborough near Northampton, Alexander will compete in a giant slalom after seventh place in the discipline at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein earlier this week.

The athlete, who has become an internationally acclaimed DJ who has played at major festivals such as Burning Man in the US, only started skiing in 2015 on holiday in Canada and does not have a full-time coach.

Alexander, the 15th athlete to compete for Jamaica at the Winter Olympics, is willing to admit that he has little chance against sports elites – many of whom have been skiing since childhood and have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their careers. over the years.

Instead, he hopes that his unlikely run will inspire others, especially those from smaller countries and tropical climates, to pursue any alpine dream they have the courage to do.

Benjamin Alexander, 38, whose father is a Jamaican, will be the only member of Jamaica's national ski team at the Beijing Winter Olympics next month.

Benjamin Alexander, 38, whose father is a Jamaican, will be the only member of Jamaica’s national ski team at the Beijing Winter Olympics next month.

Alexander considers Dudley Stokes, a pilot of the Jamaican bean team that started at the 1988 Olympics, to be one of his mentors with whom he is in daily contact.

Stokes’ efforts to qualify for the Olympics were immortalized in Cool Runnings, and Alexander recalls that he watched the film and thought it was “the most amazing thing since slicing bread.”

Alexander, who has an English mother and a Jamaican father, said that without pioneers like Stokes, Jamaica may not have competed in the Winter Olympics and his path to competition would be “incredibly difficult.”

Alexander wrote on Instagram: ‘I really hope that my journey will lead to a whole new generation of athletic talents from under-represented races and nations in winter sports.’

He told BBC Sport: “It is said that you will never meet your heroes, but Dudley is amazing.

“There are many favors to which I owe the team’s heroic efforts in 1998.” I am designing my racing suit and I would like it to be a close version of the bobsleigh track from the 21st century [kit]. Credit where there is merit, it is said that we stand on the shoulders of giants and they were giants in my story. “

Dudley Stokes smiles back at his team members as they demonstrate a form of pushing bobs during a reception reception for the team at a Tokyo hotel on February 4, 1998 before the Winter Olympics.

Dudley Stokes smiles back at his team members as they demonstrate a form of pushing bobs during a reception reception for the team at a Tokyo hotel on February 4, 1998 before the Winter Olympics.

Alexander did not start skiing until 2015, when he was skiing in Whistler, Canada, where he was invited as a DJ to a party.

“I chose one green run [the easiest] and I kept saying the same thing over and over again. When I first went to this run, I think I fell 27 times.

“I think I finished at the end of the day when I fell only seven times in that ride and it was progress for me.

“It simply came to my notice then. We are chipping bit by bit and trying to improve every day. “

Alexander later met American skier Gordon Gray in 2019, who told him that his technique was “appalling”, but also that he could not understand how Alexander could keep up with him.

Alexander said, ‘He pulls me aside and says,’ Benji, I’ll tell you what I see. Your technique is absolutely appalling, I’ve never seen anything worse.

“But you’re telling me you only skied for 25 days and only had two lessons. Of course, you won’t just learn this highly technical thing by osmosis, but what I can’t even understand in my life is how you keep up with me. You’re a damn fool, you’re fearless. The fact that you are fearless means that you have more than half the battle won. ”

Alexander, who has an English mother and a Jamaican father, said that without pioneers like Stokes, Jamaica may not have competed in the Winter Olympics and his path to competition would be “incredibly difficult.” Pictured: Alexander descends the slope during training at the Kolasin Ski Resort on December 21, 2021

Alexander explained, “He helped me understand that it would be within my reach if I really did, and did. I’ve been on this mission almost full time since then. ”

Almost three years later, Alexander is the first Jamaican to compete in alpine skiing at the Beijing Winter Olympics this week.

He says he hopes his experience will show the public that your background doesn’t matter – everyone has a place in winter sports.

“If I’m able to start playing sports at 32 and get to the Olympics at 38, then there’s no excuse for anyone – whether he’s 40, 50, 60, not to go out and get some lessons and have some fun. away from skiing, “he told Eurosport. ‘It’s not too late.’

“When I started this mission, it was a really selfish endeavor – we’ll see where I can take it for myself,” Alexander said.

After the incident that happened with George Floyd last year, I gained as much attention and support as a result of people trying to promote a variety of winter sports.

“Now I almost feel like I’m putting the pressure on performance and to do this thing on my shoulders for a variety of winter sports, so it’s much bigger.

“I’m very excited to be the person who can show that it doesn’t matter what your background, socioeconomic or racial, that you have a place in winter sports.”

“We are trying to inspire the next generation,” Alexander said last month.

Alexander descends the slope during training at the Kolasin Ski Resort on December 21, 2021

Alexander descends the slope during training at the Kolasin Ski Resort on December 21, 2021

“Even though you may come from Timor, India or Jamaica, if you start young and believe, then maybe we can be a generation of elite country in winter sports.”

Alexander came from a working class background. He told Olympics.com: “My mother, my father and my brother have spent most of their careers either in factories or in management.

“None of them finished high school with any decent high school or O-level.”

But Alexander went the other way and won a scholarship to a private school before studying physics and engineering at Imperial College London.

During his studies, he began DJing, but ended two years later in 2002 after someone was shot while Alexander was standing in line to get to a London nightclub.

He said, ‘I just thought it was absolute nonsense. During the day I will basically be at MIT – I went to the Imperial College of Science, Technology, Medicine to study physics – so I do this during the day and I meet people at night who tried to kill each other, and at that moment I stopped almost immediately. music. “

Alexander then worked in finance in Hong Kong for years before returning to DJing. He eventually performed at the Burning Man Festival in the United States and resided in Ibiza.

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