Jamaica Ski Federation ‘ultimately seeking to medal’ - Foster

By Sports Desk January 28, 2024

The Jamaica Ski Federation (JSF) aims to transform qualification into medals in competition at global sporting championships. What was once a novelty for the sunny isle of Jamaica has now become a regular occurrence with Jamaican athletes and teams lining up on start lists for the world’s biggest events on ice.

That growing trend has seen Jamaica glide into the ongoing Winter Youth Olympic Games, dubbed ‘Gangwon 2024, in South Korea, with Henri Rivers IV and his twin sister Henniyah providing first-time individual representation in Alpine skiing.

Acknowledging their growing influence, secretary general of the JSF, Ryan Foster, says they are pleased with their historic qualification and will advance the preparation of its athletes for Olympic Games, with the ultimate goal to secure podium spots.

“The Jamaica Ski Federation is excited about this new chapter in Jamaica’s journey into Winter Olympic sports. We had success in Winter Olympics with Benjamin Alexander’s qualification and now having two qualifiers in the Youth Winter Olympics,” he observed.

“This is historic and we will be ramping up our efforts to qualify more athletes for the sport. Our aim is to learn and grow from each chapter to ultimately seeking to medal in the sport. Sport is a business and the novelty of just qualifying has worn out and we need to provide avenues and opportunities for our athletes to medal,” Foster stated.

“The Jamaica Ski Federation has many plans in place to include our coaching programme, increased participation in competitions, as well as the purchasing of equipment to compete at an international level,” he announced.

Henri IV and Henniyah are actually two-thirds of a triplet of skiers, which is completed by Helaina. Their parents, Henri and Karen, are both ski instructors and coaches who the 16-year-olds say have taught them well.

The senior Henri, of the family who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has been instrumental in the development of skiing talent among black athletes and was president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, the largest African American ski council in the world, with over 50 clubs in the United States and United Kingdom.

The twins qualified to represent Jamaica through their Jamaican-born mom Karen and shared that they are happy to have connected to their roots in this way.

“I thank the Jamaica Ski Federation and the Jamaica Olympic Association for allowing me to represent Jamaica on a global scale. This trip means a lot to me in so many ways; being able to compete against other athletes and nations from all over the world, and to see the excitement on their faces when they receive a Jamaican pin. It’s like getting a golden ticket to go to the chocolate factory,” Henri IV lit up. “I didn't understand it, but I became eager to be a part of their excitement.

“But the most important thing to me is the fact that I’m able to race at a high level representing Jamaica, a place that doesn't have snow,” continued Henri IV, who has a world ranking of 34.

“My goal is to perform at my best and to hopefully inspire the next generation of young Jamaican snow sports athletes.”

Henniyah was just as appreciative, bubbling at the opportunity to represent Jamaica.

“I am very excited to be here in Gangwon, Korea, experiencing and competing in the 2024 Youth Olympic Games. I appreciate and thank the Jamaica Ski Federation and the Jamaica Olympic Association for giving me this opportunity,” she admitted.

“I’m fortunate alpine skiing has given me the potential to represent my mother’s homeland. I am thrilled to ski here this week, I’m excited to perform and do what I love, and I am truly excited to embrace Jamaica through winter sports,” Henniyah, ranked 39th, continued. “I will never forget this extraordinary experience and this journey helps me connect with my heritage.”

Foster, in the meantime, remains positive, yet inspired by the national skiing federation’s prospects.

“The Rivers triplets are trendsetters and we will be pushing to expand from here,” he said. “Jamaica is now a force to be reckoned with in Winter Sports."

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