British-born former DJ will become Jamaica’s first Alpine skier at the Winter Olympics

A British-born former DJ is set to become Jamaica’s first alpine skier at the Winter Olympics, just six years after taking up the sport for the first time.

Benjamin Alexander, 38, and his Jamaican father, will be the only member of the Jamaican national skating team at the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month.

Alexander, who grew up in Wellingboro, near Northampton, will be competing in giant slalom after finishing seventh in the discipline at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein earlier this week.

The athlete, who became a world-famous DJ and played at major festivals like Burning Man in the US, only started skating in 2015 while on vacation in Canada and doesn’t have a full-time coach.

Alexander, who will be the 15th athlete to compete with Jamaica at the Winter Olympics, easily admits he doesn’t stand a great chance against the sport’s elites – many of whom have been skating since they were young and have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their careers over the years.

Instead, he hopes his unlikely path will inspire others, especially from small countries and tropical climates, to chase whatever alpine dreams they have brave enough to nurture.

Benjamin Alexander, 38, and his Jamaican father, will be the only member of the Jamaican national skating team at the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month.

Alexander Dudley Stokes, the Jamaican bobsleigh pilot who competed in the 1988 Olympics, counts as one of his mentors he comes in contact with every day.

Stokes’ efforts to qualify for the Olympics were immortalized in Cool Runnings, and Alexander remembers watching the movie and thinking it was “the coolest thing since slicing bread.”

Without pioneers like Stokes, Alexander, who has an English mother and a Jamaican father, said Jamaica might not have competed in the Winter Olympics yet and would make his way to compete “very difficult”.

“I really hope my journey leads the way for a whole new generation of sporting talent from racing and under-represented nations in winter sports,” Alexander wrote on Instagram.

He told BBC Sport: ‘They say you’ll never meet your champions, but Dudley is cool.

There are many privileges I owe to those heroic efforts of the 1998 team. I’m designing my own racing suit and I would like it to be a near-sledge version of the 21st century. [kit]. Credit where credit is due, the saying is that we stand on the shoulders of giants and they were the giants in my story.

Dudley Stokes smiles again at his teammates as they display a bobsled push figure during the team's package reception at a Tokyo hotel on February 4, 1998 prior to the Winter Olympics.

Dudley Stokes smiles again at his teammates as they display a bobsled push figure during the team’s package reception at a Tokyo hotel on February 4, 1998 prior to the Winter Olympics.

Alexander only started skating in 2015 when he skated in Whistler, Canada, where he was invited to DJ at a party.

You have chosen one green path [the easiest] And I kept doing the same movement over and over. The first time I had this run, I think I fell 27 times.

“I think I finished at the end of the day having only stopped this run seven times and that was progress for me.

This is how I looked at this whole thing. Chipping away a little bit at a time and trying to get better every day.

Alexander later met American skater Gordon Gray in 2019 who told him his technique was ‘horrible’ but also couldn’t fathom how Alexander managed to keep up.

‘He pulled me aside and said, ‘Benji,’ said Alexander, ‘I will tell you what I see. Your style is so terrible, I’ve never seen anything worse.

But you told me you only skied for 25 days, and you only had two lessons. Of course you not only learn this very technical thing via osmosis, but what I can’t fathom for my life is how it keeps up with me. You crazy crazy, you know no fear. The fact that you are fearless means that you have won more than half the battle. ”

Without pioneers like Stokes, Alexander, who has an English mother and a Jamaican father, said Jamaica might not have competed in the Winter Olympics yet and would make its way to competing

Without pioneers like Stokes, Alexander, who has an English mother and a Jamaican father, said Jamaica might not have competed in the Winter Olympics yet and would make his way to compete “very difficult”. Pictured: Alexander descends from a cliff during a training session at Kolasin Ski Resort on December 21, 2021

Alexander explained: “He helped me understand that it would come in handy if I really gave myself and devote myself to it. I’ve been pretty much full-time on this job ever since.

Nearly three years later, Alexander is competing at the Winter Olympics in Beijing this week as the first Jamaican to compete in the alpine skiing event.

He says he hopes his experience shows the audience that it doesn’t matter about your background – everyone has a place in winter sports.

If you’re able to start a sport at 32 and make it to the Olympics at 38, there’s no excuse for anyone — whether they’re 40, 50 or 60 — not to go out and get some lessons and have some fun, Eurosport said. ‘It’s not too late yet.’

“When I started this job, it was a really selfish attempt — let’s see where I can take this myself,” Alexander said.

Then after the incident last year with George Floyd, I got a lot of attention and support as a result of people trying to advocate for diversity in winter sports.

“Now, I almost feel like I have that pressure to perform and do this thing on my shoulder for diversity in winter sports, so I’m a lot bigger.

“I am so excited to be that person who can show that no matter what your background, socioeconomic or ethnicity, you have a place in winter sports.”

“We try to inspire future generations,” Alexander said last month.

Alexander skis downhill during a training session at Kolasin Ski Resort on December 21, 2021

Alexander skis downhill during a training session at Kolasin Ski Resort on December 21, 2021

“Although you may come from Timor, India or Jamaica, if you start at a young age and have faith, perhaps we can be the elite nations in winter sports within a generation from now.”

Alexander came from a working class background. He told Olympics.com: “My mom, dad and brother have spent most of their careers either in factories or driving.

“None of the three finished high school with any GCSEs or O-levels.”

But Alexander took a different path and was awarded a scholarship to a private school before studying physics and engineering at Imperial College London.

While studying, he took up DJ music but quit two years later in 2002 after a person was shot and killed when Alexander was queuing to enter a London nightclub.

He said: I told myself that this is absolute stupidity. By day, I’d be at MIT—I went to the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine to study physics—so by day, I’d do that, and at night, I’d hang out with people trying to kill each other and I gave up on music almost instantly at that moment.

Alexander then worked in finance in Hong Kong for years, before returning to DJing. He ended up playing at the Burning Man Festival in the US and got a residency in Ibiza.

.

Leave a Comment