Jamaica's Consul General to Toronto, Mr. George Ramocan (right), with Jamaican skier, Mr. Errol Kerr (centre) and his coach, Mr. Eric Holmer; after Mr. Kerr qualified for a World Cup event.
TORONTO, Canada - Twenty-three year-old freestyle skier, Mr. Errol Kerr, who is representing Jamaica at the 2010 Winter Olympics, has given Canadians a little of what he intends to do on the slopes of Vancouver, British Columbia, in February.
Mr. Kerr was among 66 skiers who took part in a two-day International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup event in Blue Mountain, Ontario, about a two-hour ride north of the city of Toronto, on January 19 and 20.
At the end of the first day of competition, Mr. Kerr finished 28th, becoming one of only 32 skiers who moved on to day two. Unfortunately he did not advance on day two and ended the event in 28th position. However, he did finish ahead of several 'snow' countries, including the United States, Italy and Russia.
Jamaican skier Errol Kerr (left) and Jamaica's Consul General to Toronto, Mr. George Ramocan (right), after Mr. Kerr qualified for a World Cup event, which took place in Blue Mountain, Ontario, Canada, on January 19 and 20.
This is the first time that Ski Cross will be featured at the Winter Olympics. Competitors ski down a course that can have jumps, rollers and banks, and can travel at speeds of up to 70 miles. During day one of this competition, each skier is racing against the clock. On day two, four skiers race at a time, sometimes jostling each other for position; however, deliberate contact can lead to disqualification.
Jamaica's Consul General to Toronto, Mr. George Ramocan, was among a contingent of supporters, including students from several Toronto-area schools, who made it to Blue Mountain to cheer on Mr. Kerr.
Noting that Jamaica is a consistent world record breaker in many fields of endeavour and the courageous spirit of Jamaica's sports men and women has earned them the highest medals and awards in different fields of sports, Mr. Ramocan said Mr. Kerr exemplifies this tradition of excellence.
"His triumph over powerful snow countries like the United States, Russia and Italy, makes him a definite favourite," he said.
Following the race, there was an interactive link between the Canadian students, Mr. Kerr and young people who were at the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) in Kingston, Jamaica, made possible by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
In a televised message, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Hon. Olivia Grange, congratulated Mr. Kerr, and emphasised that a Jamaican can accomplish anything.
The Canadian and Jamaican young people were able to ask the Jamaican skier questions about his sport, family and ambitions.
Born in the United States to a Jamaican father and American mother, Mr. Kerr was asked about his reason for skiing for Jamaica? "Jamaica is the land of my father; it's in my DNA. If you have the power and the love of the people behind you, you can scale mountains and really tackle things that would be hard without that support. It's not just you out there skiing, you have a whole family, a whole island behind you. That's why I chose to ski for Jamaica," Mr. Kerr said.
He told the students that skiing is his "life, heart and passion. When I put on my skis and start skiing, there is nothing else that can be remotely compared to it."
Mr. Kerr also gave the young people some words of advice and encouragement. "Be the best that you can be at whatever you do. Apply yourself; wake up every day and be the best person you can be on that day. On February 21, I'll show the world just how far your dreams can take you," he said.
Two young Canadians, originally from St. Lucia, Ms. Portia John and Ms. Melaine Dorville, said they were in awe of the Jamaican skier.
"Jamaicans are like family to me because I work at a Jamaican restaurant and all I can say is anything is possible," said Ms. John. For her part, Ms. Dorville said: "I am really proud of him. He makes me feel good that I am from the Caribbean and I'm supporting him one hundred per cent."
Mr. Kerr thanked Jamaicans in Canada, including Mr. Senn Yapp, Mr. Clive Johnson and Ms. Martina Simmonds, for opening their doors to him.
Mr. Yapp, a ski instructor at Blue Mountain, said Mr. Kerr has been somewhat of a phenomenon since his arrival.
"No other ski team except for the Jamaica Ski Team was invited to visit all the retail stores here. The kids were lined up 30 deep to meet him and get his autograph," he said.
Mr. Johnson, who describes himself as the Canadian Co-ordinator of the Jamaican Ski Team, is on a drive to make sure everyone knows about the team.
"If not at this Olympics, then the next one in Sochi, Russia, we're expecting a medal. He's really that good and he's getting better. My new phrase is, 'From Ochie to Sochi'," he said.
Mr. Kerr will now make his way to Vancouver for the start of the Winter Olympics. He is expected to compete on February 21. Persons wishing to cheer him on, can go to: www.errolkerr.com