Throughout history, some 450 Latin American athletes have participated in the Olympic Winter Games. These have always been testimonial incursions since Latino athletes have never had the opportunity to contest seriously to get any of the medals in game. Unfortunately, Latino athletes have made more headlines for the originality of their participation, instead of the level of their performances. For now, the medals in the winter edition are vetoed to the warm South American countries, without the tradition nor the means nor the surroundings of powers like Canada, Norway, Sweden, Russia or Finland.
The first time that athletes from the region participated in a Winter Olympics was in Sant Moritz, Switzerland, in 1928, after being excluded from the first Winter Games of 1924 in Chamonix. Since then, Argentina has been the country with the highest number of participants in the winter season, with about 200. Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Puerto Rico are far behind.
The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will kick off on February 9 and we can already speak of a respectable Latin American presence. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela have already announced that they will send athletes to the Korean event, some of them with the potential to have great results, such as U.S.-born Mexican skier Robby Franco, who will compete in Freestyle Sky.
As for Argentina, Maria Cecilia Dominguez stands out in biathlon and Steven Williams in snowboarding cross. However, there are other athletes who will also attend the event, such as Mati Schmitt and Federico Chiaradio in snowboarding, Saimon White in snowboard cross, Verónica Ravenna and Lucas Populin in Luge, and Victoria Rodríguez in speed skating. Bolivia will be championed by Simon BreitfussKammerlander in alpine skiing; while skater Isadora Williams will be the one representing Brazil with better options. Antonio Pardo has already qualified for Venezuela in the slalom, while Michael Poettoz and Michael Cueto have done it in ski for Colombia. Finally, Chile will have Antonia Yañez in snowboarding and Yonathan Fernandez in cross-country. Within this group (the qualifying dates are open until January 22), we have highlighted five athletes who, in terms of career and quality, have some opportunity to play a relevant role in the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
MARIA CECILIA DOMÍNGUEZ. ARGENTINA. CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
Cross-country skiing / Skier Maria Cecilia Domínguez will make history in Pyeongchang 2018 because she will be the first Argentinian woman to participate in a Winter Olympic Games, she will do it in the cross-country skiing event. Cecilia Dominguez began her sports career in athletics, but years later found her place in winter sports. The 31-year-old Argentinian athlete specialized in biathlon mode (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting); in fact, she was a seven-time South American champion of the specialty. The last title was obtained at the beginning of August in the tournament held in Portillo, Chile. However, the ticket to PyeongChang 2018 has been achieved in cross-country skiing, in which she also competes regularly, which perfectly shows her high quality and competitive ability. Born in Bariloche, Dominguez did not learn to ski when she was a kid, as many of her fellow countrymen, but instead focused on athletics. She was almost 20 years old when she put on skis for the first time. Shortly after, she decided to join the biathlon team of the Municipality of that city and later joined the army, where she was able to develop her career as a biathlete in better conditions.
KLAUS JUNGBLUTH. ECUADOR. CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
Skier Klaus Jungbluth focuses his participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea. Jungbluth is the first Ecuadorian athlete qualified to a Winter Games. He is 38 years old and will compete in cross-country ski 15 km freestyle, a test scheduled for February 16. The route will have a demanding circuit of three laps of 5 km, with a flat 35 percent, 35 percent of climbs and 30 percent of descents. I have to be prepared for all kinds of terrain,” he says. “My expectation is to be among the best South Americans,” Jungbluth says. The Ecuadorian athlete lives with his minor daughters in Australia, since his wife and two older daughters live in Guayaquil. A few years ago, he traveled to Europe to complete his university studies and it was when he met Norway and the Czech Republic, countries where cross-country skiing is very popular and there are innumerable circuits. He began to practice sports and to specialize to the point of reaching a sufficient level to compete in Olympic Games. He is supported by the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee (COE), which decided to act as a National Association, before international federations.
ISADORA WILLIAMS. BRASIL. FIGURE SKATING
American-Brazilian Isadora Williams, she is 21, has set a milestone in Brazilian sports by qualifying again for the Winter Olympics. She already did it in 2014 in Sochi, when she became the first Brazilian woman in history to participate in the winter event. In the pre-Olympic Oberstdorf summed a total of 154.21 points in the two programs and got the ticket for the Olympic event, an achievement within the reach of very few skaters in the world. Williams was born in Marietta, Georgia, USA, but she has Brazilian citizenship through her mother. Although she has visited Brazil a few times, she makes sure to represent the country in the main competitions. She has won five senior international medals, including bronze at the 2012 Golden Spin in Zagreb and gold at the 2017 Sofia Trophy.
ROBBY FRANCO. MEXICO. SKI FREESTYLE
Robby Franco, with dual citizenship, Mexican father and American mother, is a specialist in freestyle, and is the Mexican athlete with more aspirations to achieve great results in the Korean Olympic Games. Franco, who lives in Sacramento, United States, believes that it is only a matter of taking better advantage of the weather conditions of the moment to have a good performance. He says that the technical level of the majority of skiers with whom he will compete is very similar, so he blindly believes in his possibilities. The athlete achieved the Olympic classification after fulfilling the requirement to be among the best 30. After a competition in Italy, he obtained the fifth position and was ranked 18th in Canada. Franco started practicing this winter sport at the age of seven and, five years later, he had his first competition in freestyle specialty in the United States.
SIMON BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER. BOLIVIA. ALPINE SKIING
Simon Breitfuss Kammerlander will take the Bolivian flag to one of the most important competitions in the world, to a place where Bolivian athletes have never been before. For the first time in the history of the national sport, the country will have a representative in the Winter Olympic Games to be held in Pyeonchang, South Korea. The Austrian-Bolivian skier got the qualification after participating in the 2017 World Cup, in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Breitfuss, born in Austria, got a historical fact for a country that he adopted and feels “like his home”. As a specialist in this sports discipline and to “contribute” to his new country, Breitfuss decided to be part of the Bolivian Ski and Mountaineering Federation, and later to represent it in the 2017 World Cup, where he was ranked among the first 30 of the world in alpine skiing.