The also-rans made their Winter Olympics debut today in the men’s giant slalom. These were the marginal racers who shaved just enough points off their FIS score to qualify. And there was a lot of shaving, with 103 racers taking to the Whistler piste this morning.
FIS (the International Ski Federation) has made great efforts to make skiing more inclusive, holding ski camps way off the beaten path to help developing countries. These racers whose country codes demand internet help are the trailblazers of ski racing back home. Their stories inspiring, but their skiing?
Glenn Beck is surely excited that Iran’s sole entrant, Hossein Saveh Shemshaki (pic right) sat in dead last for a time, just 14 seconds off the pace. We’re backing Shemshaki here at The Ski Channel for all the glowing things he has said in the past about Bode Miller. “We like him because he risks so much and attacks,” Shemshaki explained. One nation under snow!
Shemshaki was narrowly bumped from the last position by Uzbekistan’s flag bearer during the opening ceremonies, Oleg Shamaev (pic left). Shamaev held on to the bottom spot for the next 10 racers, until San Marino’s Marino Cardelli skied a NASTAR worthy run and snaked the bottom spot. San Marino is a European micro-state, like the Vatican, and is land-locked by Italy. I could give San Marino’s entire history in the time it took Cardelli to get down the Whistler course. But, instead we’ll give him props for having the best hair at these Winter Olympics (pic right).
The bottom of the leader board remained in flux throughout the rest of the race. Dow Travers of Cayman, a man we profiled here at The Ski Channel, finished well outside of the bottom three, 12 second back in 78th position.
In the end, the field was no match for India’s Jamyang Namgial who destroyed the bottom of leader board by a whopping six seconds. Namgial pockets 92nd place, good for dead last. Marino Cardelli and his massive hair finish 91st. Rounding out the bottom podium, Pakistan’s Muhammad Abbas, a man who learned on wooden skis (!!), finishes 90th.
Coming from absolute poverty, the 24-year-old Abbas persevered and realized his Olympic dream. Winning was never the goal, rather to represent and bring back home the Winter Olympics experience to inspire the next generation of Pakistanis. It’s a cliche that’s applicable here. Today, everyone was a winner.