Feb 7, 2022 - Sports

Latin American athletes to watch at Winter Olympics

Olympic skater Donovan Carillo, wearing a mariachi outfit, skates on ice, his right leg in the air

Mexican figure skater Donovan Carrillo at a 2021 exhibition. Photo: Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Getty Images

Brazil and Ecuador may not be known for cold weather sports, but athletes from these and other Latin American nations are competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Why it matters: Despite coming from countries with few winter sports and having limited access to training facilities, these athletes are looking to replicate the success of Latin Americans who broke barriers in last summer’s Olympics.

  • Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade, Puerto Rican hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and the Dominican and Ecuadorian weightlifters Crismery Santana and Neisi Dajomes are among those who won medals last time.

Details: Contenders include figure skater Donovan Carrillo, the first Mexican to successfully do a triple axel in a competition. The 22-year-old has mostly trained in ice skating rinks inside of malls where he has to maneuver around amateurs and kids learning to skate.

  • Carrillo will kick things off with his short program on Monday. He is the second-ever ice skater from Mexico to make it to the Olympic level, after Ricardo Olavarrieta in 1992.
  • The Brazilian bobsled team, which usually trains on a dry trail, is competing again.
  • Ecuador has its first female winter Olympian this year: Slalom skier Sarah Escobar.
  • Also look for Colombian speed skater Laura Gómez; Argentinean luger Verónica Ravenna; Chilean freestyle skier Dominique Ohaco, and cross country skiers Jonathan Soto of Mexico and Jaqueline Mourão of Brazil.

Background: No Latin Americans participated in the first Winter Olympics, in 1924, but some countries have had sporadic showings ever since.

  • Argentina, a skiing destination, has had the most consistent presence, although they’ve never won a medal.
  • So far, the best-ever individual result is Brazilian Isabel Clark’s ninth place in snowboarding at Torino 2006, and the best team result is the Argentinean bobsleigh fourth place at St. Moritz 1928.

Don’t forget: The Winter Olympics are celebrated during the northern hemisphere’s winter, when the southern hemisphere — countries like Argentina and Chile — are in the middle of summer.

Of note: Several of the athletes who have competed have dual citizenships, but choose to represent Latin America.

  • This year that tradition is carried on by athletes like the alpine skiers Simon Breitfuss, an Austrian-Bolivian; Mexican-American Sarah Schleper and German-Peruvian Ornella Oettl Reyes.
  • Hubertus von Hohenlohe, a Mexico City-born Austrian who skied in a mariachi suit, has drawn attention in the past.

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