The Cayman Islands could soon be celebrating another Winter Olympics entrant – if he can get a passport from the country of his birth.
Frederick Taylor is a 12-year-old skier sizzling down the slopes faster than many of his peers. He has just returned to the United Kingdom from Cayman where he presented trophies that he recently won in skiing to Donald McLean, the president of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee.
Taylor has been skiing since he was four, training with the Ukrainian Junior Olympic team under the head coach Tim Yershov. He has competed for Great Britain at European level and then for the Cayman Islands at European and world level since he was eight.
One of his best showings was coming fourth in his age group twice in Tropheu Boruffa in Andorra which is considered the children’s World Cup with more than 300 kids from 34 countries participating in the event.
Taylor’s achievements, especially considering that he now lives in England, in a country with no snow of its own, is highly commendable and has been covered by Andorra’s media, raising the Cayman Islands profile in winter sports events on the other side of the Atlantic.
He trains mostly in Austria and competes all over Europe, particularly in Austria, France, Italy and Andorra. His gruelling training routine throughout the year involves rising at 5am to catch the best snow of the glacier in the summer.
He is on the slopes from 8am-2pm in the summer and from 8am-4pm in the autumn and winter. After snow training there is also conditioning, long runs and in the summer water skiing, as it develops the same muscle groups required for alpine skiing.
In order to do well in technical sports like skiing involving lots of professional equipment and expensive coaching, athletes must be either extremely wealthy, or, in most cases, to have the backing of the country they represent.
FIS (International Skiing Federation) sponsors world-level competitions, but athletes must train in order to maintain a standard that allows them to qualify and enter such competitions. In order to do well they give a huge back-up to their countries.
The Cayman Islands Olympic Committee is interested in kids like Taylor who is talented and extremely dedicated, putting their time, effort and literally life on the line.
Such kids are the country’s sporting future. However, the Olympic Committee can only help athletes who have the potential to get to the Olympic Games. And this is where Taylor’s problem lies because although he was born in Cayman and is here often and considers the Islands his Motherland, he holds a British, not Caymanian, passport.
This allows him to compete for Cayman to the highest level until he is 16, but not in the Olympics. So the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee hopes that Freddie’s parents will apply to the Government to consider his passport situation, which in turn might help to secure Cayman Islands’ representation in winter events.
Meanwhile, Freddie continues to work extremely hard to maintain his high skiing standard with the help of his parents Stephen Taylor who worked for the Government here for well over decade as a civil servant, and his mother, international fine artist Evgeniya Buyanova, who was resident here for many years and held several exhibitions in Grand Cayman from private venues to the National Gallery.
She was named an Artist of the Year and helped to develop local talent while lecturing as a visiting professor for her master’s course, organised by the National Gallery.
Buyanova said: “Skiing as a sport cannot be maintained by two dedicated parents alone, just as Formula 1 racing cannot be shouldered by one or two individual enthusiasts. It needs equipment and the country’s support.
“Freddie has been lucky so far because being such a talented boy, he was offered help with the skiing equipment by the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, for no rewards – just in a sporting spirit and to help getting to the Olympics.
“That help is the FIS-regulated skis, of which he now needs up to eight pairs at all times, and the shared machinery required for looking after them. Without this, Freddie would never have achieved as much as he has so far. But he has since outgrown Ukrainian coaches, however good they were.”
Freddie was offered a training place with top Italian coach Alan di Feliciantonio, head coach of the junior Olympic Brazilian team also training in Austria. This is a huge honour and the Brazilians also offered to share their equipment.
“Everyone supports Cayman’s sportsman out of camaraderie and appreciation of his effort to be that good,” said Buyanova. “How nice it would be if the Cayman Islands themselves paid some interest now that yet another talent born in this beautiful country has been discovered and achieves his potential.”
The family lives on the Isle of Wight, an island south of Portsmouth but that adds another expense of travelling to Europe as it requires crossing the Solent. This is especially expensive if taking the car over. Mum drives Freddie to his trainings which is hundreds of miles and often across countries each way to Austria and back.
Stephen is a teacher at Cowes High School. He used to teach at John Gray here.
Freddie hopes to have as much success as another Caymanian skiing youngster, Dean Travers, who is three years older. If the circumstances are right, both could be competing for the Cayman Islands in Winter Olympics in the future.
There is another strong Cayman connection because Freddie’s elder brother Dmitry, an Imperial College and University of London graduate is now a scientist. He won numerous international academic awards and Olympiads for Cayman while a student at Cayman Prep and then at St. Ignatius High School.
Freddie’s parents pay for all his expenses which runs to tens of thousands of dollars a year. Buyanova added: “Either it’s time to say good bye to this level of skiing, or for the Cayman government to step in, as all other countries do.”