PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Bolivia’s lone Olympic Alpine skier Simon Breitfuss Kammerlander hopes to rebound from his disappointing run in the men’s Alpine combined this week when he braves Pyeongchang’s downhill course on Thursday.
After completing the downhill portion of Tuesday’s combined event, the Austrian-born Kammerlander, who became a Bolivian citizen in 2015, missed the inspection call for the slalom course.
Unprepared, he failed to get around an early gate on the slalom course, resulting in a disqualification.
“I didn’t inspect the slalom and in slalom, without an inspection, it’s 50-50,” Kammerlander told Reuters.
“I was too late. It was a big joke.”
Kammerlander, who is known to his fans as “Lobo”, which is Spanish for wolf, said he hopes to make up for his early blunder in the upcoming speed events, downhill and super-G, despite being better known as a technical skier.
The road to Pyeongchang has been a long one for the 25-year-old, whose affinity for South America began as a child with trips to Argentina where his father, himself a former professional racer, trained local skiers.
Those travels also took him to Bolivia, where he met members of the country’s skiing federation, who offered him a chance to revive his dream of becoming a professional skier after he failed to make the grade in Austria.
Kammerlander, however, dismissed the notion that he and Bolivia’s only other athlete in Korea, Finnish-born skier Timo Juhani Gronlund, should be content with merely being the first representatives from the Andean nation at the Games since 1992.
“I’m here but for me, the first point is to make good results,” he said. “The sport is too expensive and costs too much time and training and everything.”
He said he was enjoying the support of the Bolivian Olympic delegation, who came out to cheer him during the combined competition.
“It’s pretty cool to have the team come together,” he said. “Normally I’m alone with my coach.
“I am now the first Bolivian (Alpine) skier, so it’s pretty cool to bring the sport back to Bolivia.”
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by John O'Brien