CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

18 Athletes Going to Sochi Alone

Original image
Getty Images

Quite a few nations rarely participate in the Winter Games because the lack of snow or ice makes those particular sports difficult and unpopular in warm weather countries. But athletes with dual (or even triple) citizenship and the means to travel for training sometimes end up representing a tropical country on the ski slopes or the ice.

None of these athletes will actually be traveling all alone to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as far as we know. When you see them in the parade, they will most likely be accompanied by coaches and officials from their nation. However, they are each the sole athlete participating in competition for their country.

1. Cayman Islands: Dow Travers

Dow Travers was the first ever winter Olympian from the Cayman Islands in 2010. That makes him a national hero in the tiny nation where the highest altitude is 141 feet above sea level! Travers learned to ski during family vacations in Beaver Creek, Colorado. In Sochi, he will compete in the men’s slalom and the men’s giant slalom under the flag of the Cayman Islands

2. Malta: Elise Pellegrin

Photograph from Facebook.

Elise Pellegrin is a French-born 21-year-old professional Alpine skier. She has been skiing since she was three years old! Pellegrin will be the first Olympic athlete ever to represent the Mediterranean island of Malta at the Winter Games, having achieved her citizenship there only recently. She will compete in the women’s slalom and the women’s giant slalom.

3. Philippines: Michael Christian Martinez

Getty Images

Michael Christian Martinez is only 17 years old, yet he will have the entire nation of the Philippines behind him as he represents them in Sochi all by himself. No one else from the Philippines has qualified for the Winter Games since 1992. Martinez has been skating since he was eight and has been racking up international awards in men’s figure skating since he was twelve. Martinez trains in Manila and in California. He is the first ever figure skater to represent the Philippines in the Olympics.

4. Bermuda: Tucker Murphy

Getty Images

Cross-country skier Tucker Murphy represented Bermuda as that nation’s first Olympic skier in 2010, and will repeat as a solo Bermudan skiing cross country in Sochi. Murphy graduated from Dartmouth, where he was on the rowing team as well as the ski team, and went on to be a Rhodes scholar studying zoology. As in 2010, he will no doubt wear Bermuda shorts as the sole representative of the island nation

5. British Virgin Islands: Peter Crook

Getty Images

The British Virgin Islands have not competed in the Winter Games since 1984 (and never before that). This year, Peter Crook will ski for the Islands in the men’s halfpipe, a freestyle skiing event. Crook was born in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, but moved to Wisconsin when he was a child. He now lives in Colorado. Crook and his father founded the BVI Skiing Association three years ago, in anticipation of the 2014 Winter Games. He said their biggest challenge was explaining what half pipe skiing was to the BVI Olympic Committee.

6. Luxembourg: Kari Peters

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is not a tropical country, but with a very small population, its Olympic Committee thought that no athlete would qualify for the games. Then cross country skier Kari Peters posted the best score of his career at his European Cup qualifying sprint in St Ulrich, Austria. The committee decided that he deserves a trip to Russia. Luxembourg sent no athletes to Vancouver in 2010, and hasn't won a medal in the Winter Games since 1992.

7. Hong Kong: Pan-To Barton Lui

Getty Images

There are no Olympic-sized ice rinks in Hong Kong, so Lui Pan-To Barton had to travel to Changchun and Harbin on the mainland to train with the Chinese National team, and then to Seoul, South Korea, to train by himself. Lui qualified for the Sochi Olympics in short track speed skating, the sole athlete from Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, it is still considered a “special administrative district,” and will be represented at the Olympics by Lui alone.

8. Tonga: Bruno Banani

Photograph by Steffen Rumke.

If you do a Google search for the name Bruno Banani, you will get the German underwear company of that name. But it’s also the name of the first Winter Olympian from Tonga. Born Fuahea Semi, the Tongan rugby player and luger went by Bruno Banani to court sponsorship from the company. It was part of a deal endorsed by the Tongan royal family to enable the athlete to afford training in Germany with the world’s best lugers. The company insinuated that the name was just a coincidence that led to the sponsorship, but that story unraveled quickly. It wasn’t “just” a hoax; Semi legally changed his name to Bruno Banani. The International Olympic Committee decided that even though using a sponsor’s name is in bad taste, Banani is the name on his passport, so he will be the lone athlete representing Tonga at Sochi in the luge event.

9. Kyrgyzstan: Dmitry Trelevski

Sochi will be the sixth Winter Games in which Kyrgyzstan has participated, and in five of those Olympics, only one athlete represented the nation. In Vancouver in 2010, Dmitry Trelevski and women’s cross country skier Olga Reshetkova made up the country’s biggest Olympic contingent ever. This time around, it will be Dmitry Trelevski by himself, competing in the men’s slalom, the men’s giant slalom, and the Super G events.

10. Mexico: Hubertus von Hohenlohe

Getty Images

As his birthday is next week, Prince Hubertus of Hohenlohe-Langenburg will be 55 years old when he skis the men’s slalom in Sochi, the second-oldest winter Olympian ever. Born in Mexico, he is a descendant of a royal family from an area that is now part of Germany. Von Hohenlohe grew up in Austria, where he had plenty of opportunity to ski. He now lives in Liechtenstein and holds dual Austrian and Mexican citizenship. He is the only athlete representing Mexico at the Winter Games.

With his pedigree, von Hohenlohe could have competed for Austria, Liechtenstein, Spain, Italy, or Mexico. He selected Mexico “where I could control my own moves.” He founded the Mexican Ski Federation, of which he is the sole member. Off the slopes, von Hohenlohe is a musician and photographer. Watch a video of one of his latest songs. 

By the way, the oldest Olympian ever at the Winter Games was Swedish curler Carl August Kronlund, who won a medal in 1924 at age 58.

11. Nepal: Dachhiri Sherpa

Photograph by Elena Tartaglione.

Considering the elevation and available snow, it’s a wonder that Nepal doesn’t produce more winter Olympians. Dachhiri Sherpa will represent Nepal alone in Sochi in cross country skiing. The 43-year-old Sherpa has been competing in the sport since 2002 and holds the record for the Alpine ultramarathon Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Sochi will be Sherpa’s third Olympics -he was the sole representative of Nepal in 2006 and 2010 as well.

12. Pakistan: Muhammad Karim

Pakistan originally qualified three skiers for the 2014 Olympics. Then the plan was to send one female and one male to the Games. And now a dispute between the Pakistan Olympic Association and the Pakistan government threatens the nation’s participation entirely. As of today, only one athlete, teenager Muhammad Karim, is slated to compete at Sochi, in the men’s slalom and the men’s giant slalom.

13. Paraguay: Julia Marino

Photograph from Facebook.

Paraguay has never participated in the Winter Games until this year. The sole athlete from the South American nation will be Julia Marino, who was born in Paraguay and then adopted by a family in Winchester, Massachusetts. She first visited Paraguay in 2013, and was treated as a celebrity

Make no mistake, Marino's participation in the Winter Olympics is a big deal in Paraguay, which she visited for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Her tour included press conferences and a television interview on Paraguay's version of "Good Morning America." As the only representative of her country, naturally she will be the flag bearer during the opening ceremonies.

Now a junior at the University of Colorado, Marino will be representing Paraguay by herself when she competes in the new Olympic sport of slopestyle skiing.

14. Venezuela: Antonio Jose Pardo Andretta

Venezuela has participated in the Winter Games in four past Olympics; in 2014 they will be represented by one athlete, Antonio Jose Pardo Andretta, competing in the men’s giant slalom.

15. Tajikistan: Andrei Drygin

Getty Images

Tajikistan is a mountainous country, but it has only one ski station with one ski lift. Nevertheless, Andrei Drygin will be skiing for Tajikistan in Sochi as their only athlete for the fourth time. Drygin skied in Salt Lake City, Turin, and Vancouver, and will compete in three events, the men’s downhill, the men’s giant slalom, and the Super G, in Sochi.

16. Timor-Leste: Yohan Goutt Goncalves

Photograph from Facebook.

Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, achieved independence from Indonesia in 2002 and became the first new nation of the 21st century. The nation participated in the last three Summer Games, and 2014 will mark East Timor’s first entry in the Winter Games. The country will be represented by skier Yohan Goutt Goncalves in the men’s slalom. Goutt Goncalves was born in France to a French father and an East Timorese mother. The 19-year-old skier said, 

“I wanted to go to the Olympics representing East Timor as it would be a double experience,” he says. “Of course there is the competition, but also the chance to play the role of diplomat. It’s a brand new country, only formed in 2002 and still developing. I particularly want to show that there is more to East Timor than war.”

17. Virgin Islands: Jasmine Campbell

Photograph from Virgin Islands Olympic Committee.

Jasmine Campbell was born in St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and moved to Sun Valley, Idaho at the age of nine. She is a student at Whitman College (but is taking a year off to get ready for the Sochi Olympics) and lives in Hailey, Idaho. She comes by her Olympic dreams honestly: her father, John Campbell, skied at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France. Campbell will be the only athlete representing the Virgin Islands, competing in the women’s slalom and giant slalom events.

18. Zimbabwe: Luke Steyn

Zimbabwe has never participated in the Winter Games before. In Sochi, Luke Steyn will proudly carry the flag and compete in the men’s slalom and giant slalom. Steyn was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and moved with his family to Switzerland at age two. He lived in several countries of Europe while growing up. He is a student at the University of Colorado, currently taking a year off to train for the Olympics.

Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
arrow
Miss Cellania
10 Famous Birthdays in May
Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Some of our favorite historical figures were born in May. We couldn't possibly name them all, so here are just a few of the notable people we'll be celebrating.

1. SIGMUND FREUD: MAY 6, 1856

Getty Images
Getty Images

Sigmund Freud is known as the Father of Psychoanalysis. The Vienna psychiatrist developed a theory of the unconscious mind, where the id, ego, and superego struggle to balance each other out in the human psyche. Freud attributed his patients' neuroses to childhood trauma, often cloaked in a sexual conflict. His work was at first deemed perverted, but his ideas started to spread after a series of lectures in the U.S. in 1909. After Freud's death in 1939, Freudian theory was hailed as genius in mainstream culture. But beginning in the 1960s, Freud's theories started to fall out of favor in academia and are largely discredited today. However, his attempts to map the psyche gave us the language we still use to discuss personality and mental health.

2. FRED ASTAIRE: MAY 10, 1899

Getty Images
Getty Images

Fred Astaire began dancing when he was just four years old. Soon he and his sister Adele were in a performing arts school and started dancing professionally. First came vaudeville, then Broadway, and when Adele married, Fred headed to Hollywood. Producers were at first reluctant to cast Astaire as a leading man because of his looks, but his dancing soon won them over. Astaire appeared in dozens of films between 1933 and 1981, 10 of them with with dance partner Ginger Rogers. Although his later films did not revolve around dance numbers, Astaire was seen dancing in an episode of Battlestar Galactica as late as 1979, when he was 80 years old.

3. MARTHA GRAHAM: MAY 11, 1894

Getty Images
Getty Images

Martha Graham wanted to dance from an early age, but her parents disapproved, so she didn't study dance until college. Her wildly emotional dancing led her to performances in New York, and in 1926 she established the Martha Graham Dance Company. Through the company, Graham promoted modern dance as a spiritual and emotional outlet. Over time, she came to be seen as a genius of the genre. Graham danced until she was in her '70s, and continued to choreograph dances until her death at age 91.

4. KATHARINE HEPBURN: MAY 12, 1907

Getty Images
Getty Images

Katharine Hepburn caught the acting bug in college and headed to the stages of New York upon graduation. She was spotted in a Broadway production and was offered the lead in RKO's 1932 film A Bill of Divorcement. That kicked off a movie career of more than 60 years, in which she was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won four. Hepburn was a certified box office draw, but off screen she refused to behave like a Hollywood star. She spoke her mind, wore pants, and even appeared in public without makeup occasionally. Hepburn was also known for her devotion to the love of her life, actor Spencer Tracy, who was separated from his wife but refused to divorce her. The last of nine films they made together was Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967, just before Tracy died. Hepburn continued making movies through 1994, when she was 87 years old.

5. PIERRE CURIE: MAY 15, 1859

Getty Images
Getty Images

French physicist Pierre Curie is often overlooked in favor of Marie Curie, his brilliant student and later wife. Together they discovered radium and polonium, and did extensive research into radioactivity. Pierre, Marie, and Henri Becquerel jointly won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their research. Curie might have gone onto many further discoveries, but he was killed in 1906 when a horse-drawn cart ran over him in Paris. If he had lived longer, Curie might have also succumbed to illness caused by radiation, as did his wife, daughter, and son-in-law—all Nobel Prize winners.

6. MARY CASSATT: MAY 22, 1844

Mary Cassatt via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Renowned American painter Mary Cassatt wanted to become an artist, but her parents objected and her Philadelphia art school didn't take women students seriously. So she went to Paris and studied privately under teachers from Ecole des Beaux-Arts, as the school did not admit women. Gradually, Cassatt's works sold and her reputation grew. She drew the attention of Impressionist Edgar Degas, and worked with him for years. By 1886, she left the Impressionist movement behind, and afterward refused to be defined by any art genre. Cassatt's body of work often featured women and children in their everyday lives. Her most memorable painting, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, broke with tradition by portraying a child in a naturalistic, casual pose instead of a formal portrait.

7. SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: MAY 22, 1859

Getty Images
Getty Images

Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered for his many short stories and novels featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. But Conan Doyle worked full time as a medical doctor until an illness convinced him he had to choose between writing and medicine. Years later, Conan Doyle volunteered with the British army to fight in the Second Boer War, but because of his age (40), he was only allowed to serve as a medical doctor. Upon his return from South Africa, he entered politics in Scotland, but he lost his only race. In 1907, Conan Doyle became involved in a real criminal case in which he helped George Edalji, a solicitor of Indian heritage, beat an animal cruelty conviction by employing the observational technique that Sherlock Holmes used. The fallout from that case led to the establishment of the appeals system in Britain. Conan Doyle also wrote a science fiction novel The Lost World, published in 1912. It was so successful that he wrote four sequels.

8. MARGARET FULLER: MAY 23, 1810

Getty Images
Getty Images

Born in Massachusetts in 1810, Margaret Fuller was a precocious child who learned several languages but was not welcome at college because of her sex. She became friends with both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who admired her philosophical thinking. Fuller became a literary critic for the New-York Tribune and a well-known intellectual.

In 1845, Fuller made history with Woman in the Nineteenth Century, often considered the first major feminist work published in the United States. This groundbreaking book began as an essay in Emerson's transcendentalist journal The Dial called "The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men. Woman versus Women," in which Fuller argued that men and women must see each other as equals before they can transcend to divine love. Fuller reasoned that ignoring our commonality was the base of much of America's sins, from the slaughter of Native Americans to the slavery of African Americans.

Fuller went on to become a foreign correspondent and the first American female war correspondent, covering the Italian revolution. She also fell in love with an Italian man and had a child with him. On their return trip to the U.S. in 1850 aboard a merchant ship, a hurricane struck the ship near Fire Island, killing all three. Only Fuller's 20-month-old son was found.

9. SALLY RIDE: MAY 26, 1951

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel into space, aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Ride was a nationally ranked tennis player when she was a teenager. Billie Jean King urged her to turn pro, but Ride went to Stanford University instead. She earned both a bachelor of arts in English and a bachelor of science in physics in 1973, and a PhD in physics in 1978. Ride then immediately applied for NASA's astronaut program. She flew two shuttle missions, in 1983 and '84, and was scheduled for a third, but that mission was canceled after the Challenger explosion in 1986. After leaving NASA in 1987, Ride devoted her life to encouraging students to study science—especially girls. She founded the organization Sally Ride Science for just that purpose, and wrote five children's books encouraging interest in science. Ride died of cancer at age 61 in 2012.

10. "WILD BILL" HICKOK: MAY 27, 1837

Getty Images
Getty Images

James Butler Hickok was a farmer, soldier, stagecoach driver, spy, lawman, scout, sharpshooter, gambler, and Wild West showman. Many of those occupations came after "Wild Bill" Hickok gained publicity for killing three men in an 1861 shootout. The newspapers followed his exploits from that time on, often embellishing the details until Hickok was more of a legend than the adventurer he was. His various occupations took him to different parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Hickok was playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, when Jack McCall shot him in the back of the head and killed him in 1876. The hand Hickok was holding at the time—a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights—became known as the "dead man's hand."

Original image
Idaho Potato Museum via Facebook
arrow
Miss Cellania
9 Bizarre Food Museums
Original image
Idaho Potato Museum via Facebook

What’s your favorite food? Chances are, there’s a museum dedicated to it somewhere. You might want to include one or more of these museums in your next vacation road trip.  

1. JELL-O GALLERY // LEROY, NEW YORK

Pearle Wait of LeRoy, New York, invented a fruit-flavored gelatin dessert in 1897 that he wife named Jell-O. Appropriately, the town is home to the Jell-O Gallery, a museum dedicated to the gelatin that took America by storm. Visitors will learn the history of Jell-O, see memorabilia and advertising from Jell-O history, and learn about cooking in the past century. The museums operated by the non-profit LeRoy Historical Society, and is not supported by Kraft/General Foods, which owns Jell-O. The museum is open seven days a week through December, and weekdays January through March.    

2. THE SPAM MUSEUM // AUSTIN, MINNESOTA

The Hormel company has its headquarters in Austin, Minnesota, a few miles south of Minneapolis. That’s also the home of the Spam Museum. Hormel opened a small company museum in the local mall in 1991, but quickly found that all their visitors cared about was Spam, so now that classic canned meat has its own building downtown. Exhibits include the history of Spam, cooking demonstrations, Spam memorabilia, and a soundtrack from Monty Python.

3. INTERNATIONAL BANANA MUSEUM // NORTH SHORE, CALIFORNIA

In 2005, the International Banana Club Museum was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “most items devoted to any one fruit in the world.” The IBC Museum was established by Ken Bannister and the club in 1975, and amassed its collection of 17,000 banana items from club members who gained “banana merits.” The collection was sold in 2010 and is now the International Banana Museum. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.   

4. WYANDOT POPCORN MUSEUM // MARION, OHIO

Wyandot Popcorn Museum via Facebook

Marion, Ohio, is the self-proclaimed Popcorn Capital of the World, due to the existence of the Wyandot Popcorn Company, which was based in the area since the 1930s. The company now focuses on chips, but its legacy is enshrined in the Wyandot Popcorn Museum, which boasts an extensive collection of restored antique popcorn poppers. These commercial poppers range from movie theater models to snack wagons to factory poppers, some over 100 years old. The museum shares space with the Wyandot Historical Society in the town’s historic former post office building. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. through October, and weekends only the rest of the year.  

5. NATIONAL DAIRY SHRINE MUSEUM // FORT ATKINSON, WISCONSIN

The National Dairy Shrine is a professional group formed in 1949 promote the milk industry. The National Dairy Shrine Museum is a place to learn about all facets of the dairy industry, from the history of midwest dairy farmers to the production of butter, ice cream, cheese, and other products. The Shrine also has educational programs, a Hall of Fame honoring leaders in the industry, scholarships and internships, and more. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

6. NATIONAL MUSTARD MUSEUM // MIDDLETON, WISCONSIN

Barry Levenson was once Wisconsin’s Assistant Attorney General, but his real passion is mustard. He’s been collecting different mustards since 1986, and eventually left his law career completely to devote his time to the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum he founded in 1992. In 2000, the growing museum moved to its permanent location in Middleton and became the National Mustard Museum. There you can see 5,624 different mustards and a collection of mustard memorabilia. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Admission is free, as the museum is supported by donations and mustard sales.   

7. INTERNATIONAL VINEGAR MUSEUM // ROSLYN, SOUTH DAKOTA

International Vinegar Museum via Facebook

The world’s only vinegar museum was founded by Lawrence "Vinegarman" Diggs to showcase the many  varieties of vinegar and its many uses. The International Vinegar Museum has 350 different varieties of vinegar, a test kitchen, and vinegar tastings for visitors. The museum is open during the summer only. If you plan to visit Roslyn, the best time would be in June during the International Vinegar Festival.  

8. THE IDAHO POTATO MUSEUM // BLACKFOOT, IDAHO

Idaho Potato Museum via Facebook

Idaho produces more potatoes than any other state, so it only makes sense that they would have a museum dedicated to the state’s crop. The Idaho Potato Museum is housed in the historic Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot in Blackfoot. You’ll learn about potato history, growing potatoes, and the importance of potatoes to Idaho’s economy. The newest addition to the museum is the Potato Station Cafe, which specialized in French fries, of course. The Idaho Potato Museum is open six days a week from April through September, and weekdays from October through March.  

9. HARLAND SANDERS CAFÉ AND MUSEUM // CORBIN, KENTUCKY

Harland Sanders fed travelers at his gas station on Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression, and then opened a restaurant, where he developed his method of pressure-frying chicken, which he breaded with 11 herbs and spices. Kentucky Fried Chicken grew out of that restaurant, which for a time had a motel attached. Sanders set up a sample hotel room inside the restaurant so that travelers could see what the rooms looked like before making the decision to stay. The motel is gone, but that restaurant was restored as the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum, with many of the original artifacts, including the sample motel room. There is a modern KFC outlet attached. Some of the museum’s artifacts are displayed at the fast food unit, and you can sit down and eat your chicken in the museum.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios