Though they were initially thought to be a one-time novelty act, the Jamaican bobsled team has continued to press on through the years and once again is headed to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. After finishing in 11th place in the 2009 America’s Cup in Lake Placid, New York last month, the team is on track to compete in the 2010 Games with a two-man crew consisting of driver Hanukkah Wallace and brakeman Joel Alexander.
The Jamaican bobsled (or “bobsleigh”) team first came to prominence during the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, where they received massive media attention due the incongruity of competing in a cold-weather sport despite being from a warm-weather country.
They also inspired the 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings, a fictionalized account of the team’s origins, which catapulted them even further into the public eye.
Though their sled crashed and they did not finish their first Olympic outing, the team has competed in successive Games and world championships and even managed to finish in 14th place in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway (that year, the U.S. finished 15th).
Jamaica is not the only tropical country to send athletes to the Winter Games. Alpine skiers from the Philippines competed in the 1972 Sapporo Games, and a Thai cross-country skier competed in Turin in 2006 along with athletes from Ethiopia, Madagascar, Fiji, Guam, and Guatemala.
If you want to watch the Jamaican bobsled team in action in Vancouver, better start planning now. The first phase of tickets sales has already ended, but you can try to grab some in phase two, which starts in mid-May. Call or go online to CoSport.com, the only authorized U.S. agent for Americans to buy Olympic tickets.
Or, if you have a distant cousin in Winnipeg, now is the time to resurrect that relationship because Canadians will be able buying tickets directly from the Olympics committee which means they’ll get them cheaper.
CoSport can also help you book hotels and tours of Vancouver, although you don’t necessarily need to reserve those right away.
Corporate groups often block large quantities of rooms far in advance of the Olympics which means the hotels may appear to be full, but there’s a big difference between “blocked” and “booked.” If history is any guide, people often don’t show up and those rooms get released back into inventory a few days or weeks before the Games.
By Karen Elowitt for PeterGreenberg.com.
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