The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, North Korea is a place of many firsts. While many are abuzz about dour-face Vice President Mike Pence sharing space with the North Korean delegation, a first – others want to know all about Ecuador’s one-man Olympic delegation.
The fact that a country that enjoys subtropical temperatures annually and has no snow is in the Winter Olympics is news itself. And yes this is Ecuador’s first showing at the Winter Olympics but it is the cross country skier Klaus Jungbluth Rodriguez that is capturing people’s attention.
This one man Olympic team, creator of the country’s Olympic ski federation, father of four, and PhD student is a story ready to be told.
The 38-year-old Guayaquil resident carried the Ecuadorian flag in the opening ceremonies and is set this week to make history when he competes in the 15km ski race on February 16. He trained not using skis (remember no snow) but rather rollerskis. He discovered his love of cross country skiing in the snowy terrains of Norway and the Czech Republic.
Jungbluth not only was determined to compete in the Olympics he wanted to make sure Ecuador made history. He created the country’s ski federation so that he could compete and Ecuador would have a place in this year’s winter Olympics.
Jungbuth participation is a source of great pride back home due in great part to the country’s spotty history with the Olympics. The country wasn’t officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee until 1948, decades after submitting its application. And it was not competition ready until 1964 and sent athletes to the summer Olympics of Mexico City.
Overall the South American region has limited participation in the winter Olympics for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, the region has a 90 years history of participating in the winter Olympics but no medals yet. The highest placement was in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when the Chilean skier Dominique Ohaco placed 13th.
Could this year be the year a 90-year history of no-medals changes? Will Jungbluth, who just took up cross country skiing competitively six years ago make Ecuador sports history?
Isn’t this what the Olympics are all about - the enduring human spirit.
HSN Staff Writers
HSN staff writers are a group of enthusiastic and talented creative-types that generate great story lines and write about current events with a distinctively Latino voice always respecting the audience it writes for.
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