In Vail, Bermudians pursue Olympic dream
VAIL, Colorado – Olympians are usually born and bred in an environment synonymous to the sport they represent. With winter sports, it is expected to see champions coming out of places like British Columbia, Colorado, Utah, Switzerland, and France, among others. Every so often the Winter Olympic community is thrown a curve ball and athletes from countries like Brazil, Albania, Cayman Islands, Pakistan, and Colombia will compete in events that don’t exactly line up with their country of origin. Recently there was an athlete from Ghana, who received quite a bit of press, competing in men’s slalom in the past Olympics. In Vail there are a handful of these conundrum-type international athletes training in hopes of heading to the next Olympics. Located in the North Atlantic lies Bermuda, where the highest point of elevation is 129 feet. Needless to say there are no snow sports available on this island. There are, however, many Bermudian snow sports enthusiasts willing to travel great lengths to get on the cold white stuff that we all love. One Bermudian family, now living in Vail, can certainly attest to the aforementioned claim. The Leseur family has three boys that have been skiing moguls for the past eight years. Like many families in the Vail Valley, they are intent on improving their skiing abilities. However, unlike most families, they have a rare and unique edge that may land one of the kids a spot in the Olympics. Adam Leseur and Judi Leseur recently developed the Bermudian Freestyle team in order to give their kids a new opportunity. Their three boys; Christopher, 16, Matt, 13, and John ,10, make up the entire Bermudian National Freestyle Team.”This opportunity came along thanks to Mike Murphy and his son Tucker who created the Bermuda Winter Ski Association in order to compete for Bermuda in Nordic skiing,” said Adam Leseur.During the last Olympics in Vancouver, Bermuda sent Tucker Murphy to compete in Nordic skiing, which was the first time Bermuda had ever competed in the event. After they created the Winter Ski Association they then had it recognized by the Bermuda Olympic Association, which allowed them to compete for the country.”We as parents have the opportunity to open doors for our kids, and so if the Olympics are a potential door that can be opened, why not offer it to them,” Adam Leseur said.Beaches to bumpsThe formation of the Bermuda Winter Ski Association evokes images of the classic story of the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team. Obviously training in Bermuda for a winter sports event would be near to impossible. The International Skiing Federation, or FIS, allows international athletes to train in different countries other than the country they are competing for. The Bermudian boys train with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail under the tutelage of coaches John Dowling and John Grigsby. Dowling has coached numerous U.S. Ski Team athletes and knows exactly what he is doing when it comes to the world of moguls. Grigsby has been coaching moguls for the past 11 years at numerous well-respected locations. With their coaching skills and the new facilities available at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, these athletes have a shot at achieving their dreams. “The program here has taken some time to develop,” said Adam Leseur. “Really up until late, the resources have begun to expand making it more possible to quickly progress in this sport. With Woodward and the new trampoline facility at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, we have seen tremendous change and growth in the sport of freestyle skiing.” “I think the new opportunities presented to my boys will inherently improve their skiing,” said Judi Leseur. “They are already incredible skiers, but now they will be skiing with some of the best in the world. This will surely be an eye opener.”Olympic rootsChristopher plans on competing in as many NorAm events as possible to start establishing FIS points.”This opportunity has really helped us break in to the upper level of competition,” Christopher said. “Hopefully we will one day be able to carry the Bermudian flag for Freestyle skiing at the Olympics.”The family has already had some history in the Olympics. The Leseur boys’ great grandfather was an Olympic swimmer for Bermuda. He competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where he once false started in front of Hitler. Sixteen years later he competed in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. “They are the only skiers doing what they are doing for the country. It is just something that is kind of special,” Judi said. “Thanks to longtime locals and Descente reps Bob and Kitty Seeman, the boys will be wearing custom-made ski outfits with the Bermudian flag on them.”As Vail is gearing up for more of the mountain to open, these boys have gotten a head start and already begun their training on the mogul course at Golden Peak. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Bermudian Freestyle Team of three on the slopes this season. Michael Suleiman is marketing and communications manager for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.