Latin Americans break ice at Sochi

Latin Americans break ice at Sochi
Hubertus Von Hohenlohe

You may have heard about the Mexican skier of German royalty at the Sochi Olympics. I wrote a blog post about him when he went to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.

But there are other athletes from Latin America competing this year in the winter games. The Andes mountains stretch through South America after all.

Argentina - There are six skiers competing for Argentina, according to This is not so surprising because they have ski resorts in that country. But did you know that three of them are cousins? They are Jorge F. Birkner Ketelhohn, Macarena Simari Birkner and Cristian Javier Simari Birkner.

Brazil - There are 13 athletes competing for Brazil, including those on bobsleigh and skiing events. Isabel Clark Ribeiro is a snowboarder born in Rio de Janeiro. She saw snow for the first time during a visit to the U.S. in 1994. She finished 9th in the snowboard cross in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin.

Chile - There are six skiers competing for Chile, including Yonathan Jesus Fernandez, a cross-country skier. He trains on roads in Chile instead of snow. "I am training in the roads and there are people and cars in the way, I have to fight with this every day. Apart from concentrating on the training, you have to be worried that you are going to get run over or fall. It's very dangerous, but this is just another obstacle in my life that I have to overcome," he said in an interview with

Paraguay - For the first time, this South American nation is sending an athlete to the Winter Olympics. Freestyle skier Julia Marino was born in Paraguay and adopted by a U.S. couple at eight months. She has dual nationality. She received permission from U.S. ski officials to compete for Paraguay. "The Olympics are about representing where you are from, and Paraguay is where I'm from," Marino told ESPN.

Peru - There are three athletes representing Peru, all skiers. Among them are two siblings, Manfred Oettl Reyes and Ornella Oettl Reyes, both alpine skiers. Their father is German and their mother from Peru.

Venezuela - This oil rich nation has one athlete at the winter games, Antonio Jose Pardo Andretta, 43. He is competing in alpine skiing and only started skiing competitively in recent years. "Before I didn't have the time or the resources, I had to work. I work in finance and with the paralysation of the stock markets I became unemployed, so I said to myself, 'This is the moment to fulfill my dream.," he told

These athletes are not expected to win medals. But they are breaking the ice for their countries.


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