Brief Interviews with Olympic Men

by by Simon van Zuylen-Wood

Indy: You’re in the Olympics, man! What was your “Wow I’m in the Olympics” moment?

Travers: It’s a great honour to be able to represent my Country at the Olympics, and I was incredibly proud to fly the flag at the Opening Ceremony. My first “wow” moment was when I was backstage at the opening ceremony and I turned round the corner to look up at 60,000 people. There was a moment when it really hit me.

I: Tell us a bit about your event—the Giant Slalom.

T: There are four disciplines of Alpine Skiing: Slalom (SL), Giant Slalom (GS), Super Giant Slalom (SGS), and Downhill (DH). SL and GS are considered tech events and SGS and DH speed events. SL has the shortest radius turns and the lowest speeds whereas DH has the longest radius turns and the highest speeds (90+mph). GS is in the middle and requires aspects from the speed disciplines and the tech disciplines.

I: The warm, sloppy, snow-starved conditions of Whistler Mountain have been well documented. How have the practice runs felt? If the slopes don’t improve by the 21st (GS race), what kind of adjustments might you have to make? What are the hazards, both in terms of safety and competition, of such conditions?

T: The weather has been difficult for everyone. The downhill discipline was postponed by two days because it was too just too warm, (Downhill is the fastest of the Alpine disciplines and you cannot run speed if the snow is too soft because it is just too dangerous at 90mph. The surface would also not be fair for competition, as the first skiers would have a cleaner/faster track than the last. Today was my first day in gates because there was too much snow up top). I am confident, however, that the organisers will be able to pull off the races, as the support staff they have are tremendous.

I: It’s our opinion that besides the overrated ‘Flying Tomato’ moniker, Winter Olympians don’t have enough cool nicknames. What’s yours?

T: You can ask my rugby mates about my nicknames, they’ll be happy to share.

(ed. Note: Rubgy captain Andrew Alvarez ’11 was more than willing to divulge. Travers, who sports a shock of red hair is better known on the pitch as the GingaNinga or sometimes Day Walker, depending how viciously he’s swatting opponents away)

I: You were born in the Cayman Islands. Do you go often? Family there? Off-shore bank account? Are you their first Olympian?

T: I was born and raised in Cayman, which has and always will be home. I still live there and go back as much as possible when I am not on the hunt for snow. Everyone back home is very excited, we have a great history of summer athletes but this is the first time we have made it to the winter games.

I: Any Bode/Lindsey sightings? Are you tired of being asked that by people who aren’t at the Olympics?

T: I consider most of these guys to be my skiing idols, so it’s always great to see them, and we are all living together in the [Olympic] Village so I see them from time to time.

I: How is that snazzy Olympic Village after all? Much has been made about its projected 100 million Canadian dollar price tag. High-maintenance US figure skater Johnny Weir says he’d rather be in a hotel, but he’s slumming it in the Village because he’s worried about security.

T: I’ve found that the Village is more about the people in it than the structure itself, although the facilities are amazing: 24hr gym, Cafeteria, IT suite, and Med Centre.

I: How’s the interaction between athletes? Are you and fellow Caribbean skiers Tucker Murphy (X-Country, Bermuda) and Errol Kerr (Alpine, Jamaica) getting tight?
T: The atmosphere around the Village is wonderful. Everyone is so friendly, but there isn’t that much time for socialising just yet.

I: Take us through the qualification process. Did being from Cayman help you participate?

T: Being from an island where the average temperature is 82 degrees and the highest point is 60 feet above sea level has provided me with a unique set of challenges in this sport. I can’t just jump out my back door to train like in most other nations, and so my training has always been a hunt for snow. There are, however, no free tickets to the Olympics. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has put in place a standard based off of international seed points (FIS points) in order to qualify. It was a year and a half ago when I was taking time off from Brown that I scored my first Olympic qualifying result.

I: Who’s covering for you at biochem lab every week??

T: My professors have been great in helping me work remotely; the deans, however, have been a little less flexible.

(Ed. Note: Boo deans!)