By Aaron Humes: Thirty-four years after the Jamaican bobsled team competed at the Calgary Winter Olympics, later immortalized in the Disney film Cool Runnings, and six years after first trying his sport, British Jamaican Benjamin Alexander will represent the island nation at February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, BBC Sport reports.
Alexander, the son of a Jamaican father and English mother born in Northamptonshire grew up with little Jamaican influence other than his grandmother’s food, watched the film. After obtaining a degree in engineering, entering a short-lived career in finance before becoming a globe-trotting DJ, he takes a road little traveled by Jamaicans.
Just 14 athletes from three sports have competed for the Caribbean nation at a Winter Games; the bobsled squad led by pilot Dudley Stokes the most famous – he is now Alexander’s mentor.
In 2015, Alexander – a DJ at the Burning Man festival for 10 years who also had an Ibiza residency – first discovered skiing on a trip to Canada. A few months later, when he was invited to DJ at a party in Whistler, British Columbia, he clipped into skis for the first time and it was all downhill, literally, from there.
He first attended the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea as a fan, but took a chance opportunity to learn from former US skier Gordon Gray a year later.
Despite “atrocious” technique, Gray praised his fearlessness, and three years on, Alexander will debut in the giant slalom after hitting the qualification standard to reach Beijing this week.
Alexander explains that each country has a slot for a B criteria athlete offered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), recognizing a level of professionalism offered by those who are not quite good enough to compete for a medal, but bring entertainment and interesting stories to the competition.
Alexander acknowledged that he took up the challenge as “a selfish pursuit” but recognized a chance to advance diversity in winter sports after the death of George Floyd.
“I’m very excited to be that person that can show that it doesn’t matter what your background is, socio-economic or race, you have a place in winter sports,” Alexander told BBC Sport.