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What is it with Americans in Olympic ski teams from tropical countries?

Every time I hear this sort of story:

Morrone—listed at 48 years old, which would have made her the oldest Olympic cross-country skier of all time by seven years—didn’t even show up for the 10K women’s classic on Feb. 13, claiming injury. (She was the only one of the race’s 76 entrants who didn’t start.) A day later, in the 15K men’s classic, di Silvestri, 47, made it out of the starting gate but gave up just a few hundred meters later, claiming illness. He was reportedly the only starter who failed to make even the first checkpoint.

I think about my cousin Bill.

At least when Bill skied in the winter olympics a bunch of years ago as part of the Puerto Rican team, he finished. OK, he finished last, but somebody had to finish last. At least he skied down the whole damn slope.

P.S. I have no idea how Puerto Rico was allowed to have an olympic team. As you might have heard, it’s not actually a country.

P.P.S. My cousin is not Puerto Rican. But I think he’s gone there on vacation at least once.


  1. Berry says:

    On being a country or not, I recommend watching “How many countries are there”:

  2. Jake says:

    I think there’s bylaws in the Olympic rules that make Puerto Rico eligible on the grounds that it doesn’t have senators or representatives. I remember newspaper stories about people agitating for a District of Columbia Olympic team on the same grounds.

  3. Phil says:

    Remember Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards? (Of course you do: Who could forget?) Wikipedia says “In response to the Edwards phenomenon, in 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instituted what became known as the Eddie the Eagle Rule, which requires Olympic hopefuls to compete in international events and place in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors, whichever is fewer.”

    I wonder what went wrong in this case.

  4. Steve Sailer says:

    At the 2004 Olympics in Athens in basketball, Puerto Rico beat the latest American Dream Team (Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, etc.) 92-73.

  5. Basically, some countries have no wintersports culture or institutions; and some people are good at wintersports but are “stuck” in countries that are very, very good at wintersports. Therefore, if the former want to see their flag at the Winter Olympics for basically hasbara purposes and the latter want to go to the Olympics but can’t make their home country’s cut then they make natural partners if they can find some way to square the “citizenship” circle.

  6. jrkrideau says:

    Something like this is positively simple compared to the Six Nations’ Cup with players on the Irish team coming from Ireland’s rugby team represents both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    From the Wiki:
    At home games, the Republic’s national anthem Amhrán na bhFiann is sung first, followed by “Ireland’s Call”. For away games, only “Ireland’s Call” is sung.

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