Colombia skates to winter Olympic opportunity

By bogotapost November 16, 2015
Colombian Speed Skating

Will we see Colombia represented on the Olympic Oval at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang 2018? Photo: Robert Scoble, Flickr

The Colombian Federation of Inline Skating (Fedepatin) has been approved by ice skating’s world governing body, the International Skating Union (ISU), to become a provisional speed skating member, clearing the way for Colombia to take part in all international speed skating events on ice – including the Winter Olympic Games.

Skier Cynthia Denzler’s appearance in the women’s slalom and giant slalom in the 2010 Vancouver games is so far the South American country’s only presence in the history of the Winter Olympics. Denzler is a US-born athlete who only acquired her Colombian citizenship through the business activities and residence of her father, who only arrived in Colombia in 2000 when he went to Pereira to open a clothes factory.

But the ISU membership will give natural Colombians a new chance to shine, particularly given Colombia has been among the strongest nations worldwide at inline skating – on the road – for several decades. The Inline Skating World Championships to be held in Taiwan between November 13 and 22 have all the ingredients to be another Colombian success story, but the sport hasn’t yet gained Olympic status despite various attempts.

Pedro Causil, multiple times world champion on wheels, is one of the skaters who has changed to ice skating with an eye on Olympic success in Pyeongchang 2018. The San Andrés-born skater jumped into the cold well before the announcement to prepare for an ice-skating season that is about to have its first international event. Earlier this year, he stated: “I took the decision to change to ice-skating. I couldn’t fulfil my Olympic dream on wheels, so I will try it in another sport, on ice”.

Though the switch from wheels to blades has proven very difficult, there are skaters who have succeeded in the past. Chad Hedrick and Derek Parra, both from the United States, have claimed Olympic titles in ice skating after winning multiple world championship titles on wheels.

Mario Valencia and Andrés Campo don’t need to make changes to get on the blades. The Colombian ice-skaters, both based in North America, now have the opportunity to compete in international tournaments.

Causil and Valencia will make their debuts in the short and middle distances at the first stop of the World Cup cycle at the Olympic Oval in Calgary from November 13 to 15. Both skaters have met the international limits required for participation, with Causil set to appear in the 1,500 metres and Valencia ready to contest the 1,000 metres.

Colombia’s tri-color flag and ice have not been a common combination before, but that could be about to change.

By Freek Huigen