Like most Olympic skiers, Dow Travers learned his craft at a very early age, though it wasn’t until he was 14 that he picked up racing and saw the sport change his life. But that’s hardly what makes the 22-year-old Brown University student unique in his quest for Olympic glory.
When Travers enters the starting gate in tomorrow’s giant slalom event, he will do so as the first Winter Olympian to hail from the Cayman Islands, a tourist destination known widely for fun in the sun, hardly the best environment for learning any semblance of skiing discipline. There’s not exactly a Cayman equivalent of Carrabassett Valley, you know.
The Cayman Olympian has indeed caused a stir in Vancouver.
“You can’t walk through the streets without somebody coming up to you,” he said during a break from training last Friday. “It’s definitely sparked a lot of interest around the town.”
NBC even showed the lone representative of his country during the Opening Ceremonies, apparently mispronouncing his name.
Travers began skiing when he was just a few years old at Beaver Creek during what would become his family’s annual vacation in Colorado. At 14, his racing career began on the slopes of France, where he landed as part of an exchange program. Remarkably, until he was 18, Travers’ skiing was limited to one week per year. Most Olympian skiers train and ski year-round. That is a luxury that Travers simply didn’t have.
“It’s always a hunt for snow for me,” he said.
He enrolled at Brown thanks to an academic freedom that allowed him to balance his studies (Travers, ’12, is a geo-biology major) and athletics. In addition to the Brown ski team, Travers is also a member of the Brown rugby team, and he’s good enough (he was named to 2008’s All-Ivy team, and has played on the international circuit for the Cayman Islands) that he could represent Cayman in the sport’s inclusion at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
That will be two years after the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where after the ability to train more frequently in the States, Travers plans to attend with more disciplines on his plate. In 2010, he will compete in just the giant slalom, an event that has been his sole skiing focus the past few years.
“I consider it to be a little bit of everything,” he said. But in future games, I hope to qualify in a few more.”
Travers actually qualified for the Olympics a year and a half ago, based on an international points system. This season, after taking last year off from Brown to focus on his skiing, part of his training regimen has come on the slopes of Mount Sunapee, Cranmore, and Wildcat, where he and his Brown teammates competed against other colleges on the USCSA circuit. Travers said that he’s been constantly hearing from his Brown classmates, who incidentally will be at the mercy of NBC to find out if they’ll be able to watch his race tomorrow night.
“It’s great to have some support. Back in Cayman people are excited about it too,” he said. “It’s a great experience; a great honor to be able to represent my country.”