Tropical nations at the Winter Olympics
Although traditionally associated with cold-weather nations, the Winter Olympics have also had participation from several nations in the tropical latitudes. The typical climate of these nations is not conducive to participation in winter sports, and no Winter Olympic medals have ever been won by a tropical nation. Partly because of that, their entries are a subject of human interest stories during the Games.
The first participating warm-weather nation in the Winter Games was Mexico. Much of Mexico is at a latitude north of the Tropic of Cancer, and most of the country has a subtropical highland or semi-arid climate, so it is not exclusively a tropical nation. Nonetheless, Mexico made its Winter debut at the 1928 Winter Olympics with a five-man bobsleigh team that finished eleventh of twenty-three entrants. Mexico did not return again to the Winter Games until 1984.
The first truly tropical nation to compete in the Winter Olympic Games is the Philippines, who sent two alpine skiers to the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. Ben Nanasca placed 42nd in the giant slalom event (out of 73 entrants), and Juan Cipriano did not finish. In the slalom event, neither skier was able to finish. Costa Rica became the second tropical nation to participate at the Winter Games, in 1980 at Lake Placid, New York, where Arturo Kinch also competed in alpine skiing events. Kinch would continue to compete for Costa Rica at three more Winter Games, including the 2006 Games at age 49. There he finished 96th in the 15 km cross-country skiing event, ahead of only Prawat Nagvajara of Thailand, another tropical nation.
The 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada attracted a large number of tropical nations, including Costa Rica, Fiji, Guam, Guatemala, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. The Jamaican Bobsled Team became a fan favorite at these Games and were later the inspiration behind the 1993 motion picture Cool Runnings. In the 1994 Games six years later, the Jamaican four man sled placed a creditable fourteenth, ahead of the United States and Russia, while a Jamaican bobsledder Lascelles Brown won silver for Canada in 2006.
The 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy marked the Winter Games debut of Ethiopia and Madagascar. The 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada saw the debut of the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Peru, and Ghana. The 2014 Winter Olympics saw the debut of Dominica, Paraguay, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe.
List of participating tropical nations
This list of nations includes those that lie entirely or predominantly within the tropical latitudes and also have a mostly tropical climate according to the Köppen climate classification system. Years of Winter Olympic Games participation are shown.
|Senegal (SEN)||1984, 1992–1994, 2006–2010|
|British Virgin Islands (IVB)||1984, 2014|
|Cayman Islands (CAY)||2010–2014|
|Jamaica (JAM)||1988–2002, 2010–2014|
|Netherlands Antilles (AHO)||1988–1992|
|Puerto Rico (PUR)||1984–2002|
|Trinidad and Tobago (TRI)||1994–2002|
|Virgin Islands (ISV)||1988–2006, 2014|
|Central and South America|
|Bolivia (BOL)||1956, 1980-1992|
|Costa Rica (CRC)||1980–1992, 2006|
|Venezuela (VEN)||1998–2006, 2014|
|American Samoa (ASA)||1994|
|Fiji (FIJ)||1988, 1994, 2002|
|Hong Kong (HKG)||2002–2014|
|Philippines (PHI)||1972, 1988–1992, 2014|
|Thailand (THA)||2002–2006, 2014|
Other warm-weather nations (located in the subtropics, for example) that have competed in the Winter Games include Australia (which has a tropical far north, and became the first Southern Hemisphere nation to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 2002), Bermuda, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India (which contains a section of the Himalayas), Mexico, South Africa, Swaziland, Uruguay and several North African nations including Algeria, Egypt and Morocco.
Tonga sought to make its Winter Olympic debut at the 2010 Winter Olympics by entering a single competitor in luge, attracting some media attention, but he crashed in the final round of qualifying. Two years later, he attracted media attention again when it was discovered he had altered his name to that of one of his sponsors, a lingerie firm, as a marketing stunt. He was, at that time, in training to attempt to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Notable winter Olympians from tropical nations
Winter Paralympic Games
As of 2014, only two tropical nations have been represented at the Winter Paralympic Games. Tofiri Kibuuka of Uganda competed in cross-country skiing at the inaugural edition of the Winter Paralympics in 1976 and again at the 1980 Games. After Kibuuka obtained Norwegian nationality, he began to compete for Norway at the Paralympics starting in 1984, winning several medals in athletics at the Summer Paralympics. Brazil sent two athletes as part of its debut at the 2014 Winter Paralympics.
|Kibuuka, TofiriTofiri Kibuuka||Uganda||cross-country skiing|
|Aranha, FernandoFernando Aranha||Brazil||cross-country skiing|
|Cintra, AndréAndré Cintra||Brazil||snowboard cross|
Winter Youth Olympic Games
|Cayman Islands (CAY)||2012|
- Brown competed for Jamaica in the 2002 Games, but has competed for Canada since 2006.
- Brown, Gerry. "Beyond the Jamaican Bobsledders". Infoplease. Retrieved 2006-09-16.
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- Harasta, Cathy (1988-02-20). "Jamaican bobsledders want to dispel jokes about tropical entry in wintry sport". The Dallas Morning News.
- "Madagascar prepares for its first winter Olympic appearance ever in Turin 2006" (PDF) (Press release). rAzAlpin.org. November 28, 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Brewer, Jerry (February 4, 2010). "Peruvian cross-country skier Roberto Carcelén reaches Olympic dream". The Seattle Times.
- Wyatt, Ben; Gittings, Paul (February 27, 2010). "Snow Leopard continues proud African tradition at Winter Games". CNN. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Hofman, Helene (February 1, 2010). "Tongan athlete narrowly misses out on Winter Olympics". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- "Tonga's chosen one takes aim at Sochi luging", Vancouver Sun, 2 December 2011
- "Outside Edge: Liar, liar, pants on fire in the snow", The Independent, 5 February 2012
- "IPC Historical Results database". International Paralympic Committee.
- Results for Tofiri Kibuuka from the International Paralympic Committee