One of the skiers from non-skiing countries to
attract a lot of media attention at the Winter Olympics for his curiosity value
was Ghana’s ‘Snow Leopard’ who like Cayman’s Dow Travers was a one-man band.
Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong’s sole ambition in the
slalom was just to finish and not come last at Whistler Creekside on Saturday.
He had the satisfaction of doing both, finishing 47th, a full minute and 4.6
seconds behind winner Giuliano Razzoli of Italy, but crucially well ahead of
the last placed skier.
Kwame has been a media star in Vancouver because of
his unusual background. Born in Scotland and raised in Accra, he discovered skiing
only six years ago when working at a dry ski-slope centre in England.
Immediately hooked; he dedicated himself to making the Vancouver Games and to
prove a point of not being the slowest.
Behind Kwame, 34, was Albania’s Erjon Tola who at
least had the satisfaction of completing the course in difficult conditions.
Forty-seven of the 102 starters did not finish, including American Bode Miller,
three-time medallist at Vancouver and Austria’s Manfred Pranger, the world
Travers was 69th
out of 81 finishers in the giant slalom on Tuesday in his first Winter
Olympics. Significantly, he was only 25 seconds behind the winner and his coach
Gene Bridgewater believes that Travers can improve by 20 seconds by the next
Winter Olympics if he can train at least 200 days a year.
Travers was pleased for Nkrumah-Acheampong. He said:
“Kwame did very well. A lot of people expected him to do badly. With half the
field falling he had the satisfaction of like me completing his two runs and
I’m glad he got around.”
There has been some criticism in Cayman about how
big an entourage Travers had and the overall cost yet he only had two Cayman
Islands Olympic Committee members at the Games – Donald McLean and Carson
Ebanks. Nkrumah-Acheampong had six from Ghana.