The Dominica Olympic Committee (DOC) is not confirming just yet whether Dominica will be represented at the 2014 Winter Olympics which will be held in Sochi, Russia from February 7 – 27.
A NBC sports website in the US has reported that Gary di Silvestri, a 46-year-old originally from Staten Island, N.Y., and his wife, Angelica Morrone di Silvestri, 48, born and raised in Italy, will represent Dominica at the games.
However, secretary general of the DOC, Thomas Dorsett, told Dominica News Online on Friday morning that they were still awaiting accreditation from the organizers for Dominica’s participants and expect to have definite confirmation by Tuesday next week.
If it materializes , this will be the first time ever that Dominica is being represented at the Winter Olympics.
The NBC sports website quotes Dorsett as saying “it will be an historic (moment)” and added, “our tourism department will make a field day of that.”
The Silvestris now live and train in Canmore, Canada, home of the Nordic skiing events at the 1988 Olympics.
According to the website, they first visited Dominica on holiday six or seven years ago. They have done philanthropic work, mostly in other Caribbean countries, funding children’s hospitals in needy areas. They had a friend at the nation’s Ross University School of Medicine, and it’s become a home when they’re not training.
They are quoted as saying that Dominica offered them citizenship as a thank you for the charitable work.
“It was kind of given to us,” Di Silvestri said. “It was nothing.”
In November 2012, the International Olympic Committee asked Dominica, among other nations, if it had any athletes it was considering for the Sochi Olympics, Di Silvestri said. There were few options.
“They knew us, called us and said, ‘Guys, we want you to represent Dominica if you think you can qualify,’” Di Silvestri said. “At first we were hesitant, going from a hobby to a full-time commitment. We said, ‘What the hell. It’s an opportunity. We’ll take it.’”
Di Silvestri began the process by starting the Dominica Ski Federation from scratch, using a constitution template given to them by the International Ski Federation.
“I’m not exactly a spring chicken,” said Morrone di Silvestri, who skied on the Italian Alps as a child. “Can we do it?”
They were officially eligible beginning this season, and they furiously attempted to qualify entering lower-level skiing competitions Australia/New Zealand Cup, U.S. Super Tour, Nor-Am Cup and FIS races, finishing from 10th to 78th place.
They admitted that they were intimidated at first, but Di Silvestri qualified in December, and his wife did so last week in her last-chance race.
“One broken pole or a broken ski would have been the end of it,” Di Silvestri said.
They’re still finalizing travel arrangements but are confident they will be in Sochi and march in the Opening Ceremony. Di Silvestri will carry the flag, the article states.
They’ll compete on back-to-back days. The women’s 10km cross-country race is Feb .13, followed by the men’s 15km on Feb. 14. They’re going in with experienced mindsets, having already ordered Dominica pins to trade.
“Our coach said that’s going to be a hot commodity,” Di Silvestri said. “So we’re having them made up. They’re going to trade like currency, good as gold.
Di Silvestri was a two-time state wrestling champion at Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island. His wrestling career ended after a serious vehicular accident. He spent two days in a coma and two weeks in a hospital but escaped without permanent injury.
Di Silvestri rowed for a national championship team at Georgetown, where he was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist. He spent a year in Italy, where he met his his wife who was a student at Rome University. They were married in 1990.
Upon graduating, he became a Wall Street financial analyst, spent about five years in New York and four years in London before he and his wife returned to the U.S. to run his own company, Deutsche Suisse. In their free time, they skied.
“We had started cross-country skiing maybe 15 years ago, at a very leisurely level, and then as we became more proficient, we loved it,” Morrone di Silvestri said. “We started training and looking for opportunities to race and improve our technique. It’s been a passion for many years now.”