15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

SLIDE SHOW

Topics: slideshow,

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 9
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    Shiva Keshavan, luger, Independent

    Shiva Keshavan, India’s sole luger, is a four-time Olympic competitor -- but he and India’s two skiers, Himanshu Thakur and cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal, won’t represent India at Sochi because the nation has been suspended from competing due to corruption charges. Though Keshavan had “sufficient funds” to get to Sochi this year, the Asia Cup gold-medalist has faced an uphill battle to get there, without any coach, consistent source of funding, or track to practice on. Neither Iqbal nor Thakur had funds, until a Washington Post article about Keshavan, “India’s most prominent Winter Olympics athlete,” caught the world’s attention. Word of the trio’s hardships then spread quickly across the Internet, and soon Redditors had raised $7,000 in online currency Dogecoin to fund the three athletes. Keshavan, who cannot wear India’s colors, will compete in a red, gold and yellow cap that represents his home town, and a suit covered with signatures from fans.

    (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    Lindsey Van, ski jumper, USA

    2014 is the first year that ski jumping will be open to women, who had until now been banned to compete because the sport "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view," according to president of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and an IOC member Gian Franco Kasper. That ski jumping is now open to women thanks in large part to American skier Lindsey Van and her fight with the IOC. At 29 and recovering from an injury, however, Van might face tough competition from 17-year-old Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi, who won 11 World Cup titles last season. But women all over the world will be rooting for Van and her fellow competitors alike in the sport’s historic moment.

    (Reuters/David Gray, Heinz-Peter Bader)

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    Seven out and proud LGBT athletes

    Belle Brockhoff and Daniela Iraschko-Stolz are two of the seven openly gay athletes who are taking a stand against Russia’s draconian anti-gay measures at Sochi. Brockhoff, a 20-year-old snowboarder who will be competing in her first Olympics, was the first LGBT Olympian to a six finger-salute -- representing the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination policy, Principle Six. The Sochi Olympics is just as meaningful for Iraschko-Stolz, an Austrian ski jumper, who will be the first woman to compete in the sport -- which was previously not open to women. The two women are joined in their activism by Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis, Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, Dutch short track speed skater Sanne van Kerkhof, Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas and Slovenian cross country skier Barbara Jezeršek.

    (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    Tina Maze, alpine skiing, Slovenia

    Thirty-year-old Tina Maze won two silver medals at the 2010 Olympics, and, currently the world champion Super-G skier and world-title holder in the giant slalom in 2011, is poised to win big at Sochi. She scored 11 World Cup wins in 2013 alone, and is one of just three women who have won a medal in all five disciplines in a single season. She is also a pop star in Slovenia for her 2013 song, "My Way Is My Decision,” which she worked on while training in 2013. The song became a viral hit in her home country, gaining 400,000 views in just three days.

    (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    Ayumu Hirano, snowboarding, Japan

    At just 15 years of age, 5-foot-1 and weighing only 120 pounds, Japanese snowboarder Ayumu Hirano looks like the unlikeliest candidate for an Olympic medal. But according to the Miami Herald, Hirano, who can easily gain 19 feet in a jump, has what it takes to challenge America’s Shaun White for the gold medal. Hirano first turned heads at 12, when he placed 13th at the U.S. Open Junior Championships in Vermont. By age 14, he won the silver medal in superpipe at the X Games, placing just behind White.

    (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    Dachhiri Sherpa, cross-country skiing, Nepal

    Born at the foothills of Mount Everest and raised in a monastery, 44-year-old Dachhiri Sherpa is a bricklayer by trade. He took up skiing at age 33, however, at the suggestion of a tourist and placed 92nd and 94th in the 15km events at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics. He expects to place about the same in Sochi, and he’s OK with that: "The placing is not important if I can teach young people in Nepal about the Olympic spirit. This spirit is in my heart," Sherpa told the AFP news agency. Sochi will be Sherpa’s last Olympics, but he hopes to find another skier to continue to instill the Olympic spirit in Nepal.

    YouTube

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    Yohan Goutt Goncalves, alpine skiing, East Timor

    The small Pacific nation of East Timor, which has no snow and only gained independence in 2002, has found a Winter Olympics representative in skier Yohan Goutt Goncalves. Goncalves, a French-born resident of Australia, learned to ski in his father’s home country of France. His mother, who fled East Timor as a child, helped Goncalves set up the nation’s ski team -- a difficult task given the country’s turmoil -- in 2012. Goutt, 19, has been hailed by many in East Timor as a hero. His race will be broadcast on a big screen in the main square of East Timor’s capital, Dili.

    (AP Photo/Janie Osborne)

    15 Olympians to watch in Sochi

    The di Silvestris, cross-country skiing, Dominica

    The small Caribbean country of Dominica will make its Winter Olympic debut at Sochi with cross-country skiers Gary di Silvestri and Angelica Morrone di Silvestre. Gary, a 46-year-old from New York, and Angelica, his 48-year-old Italian-born wife, were awarded Dominican citizenship for their philanthropy, which included founding two children’s hospitals in the country. Angelica will become the oldest woman to compete in Olympic cross-country skiing. But not everyone is rooting for the husband-wife team, who are not like typical Olympic candidates. Speaking to the New York Times, Olympic historian Bill Mallon called the di Silvestris “classic Olympic tourists.”

  • Recent Slide Shows

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...