Skiers from Haiti and Jamaica battle at bottom

Michael Williams, left, represented Jamaica at the World Ski Championships, and Jean-Pierra Roy represented Haiti. Photo is from the Haitian Ski
Michael Williams, left, represented Jamaica at the World Ski Championships, and Jean-Pierra Roy represented Haiti. Photo is from the Haitian Ski Federation

While the top slalom skiers in the world contended for the World Ski Championship at Beaver Creek in Vail over the last few days, two skiers from countries you probably didn’t even know had a ski team were battling each other at the bottom.

Neither Jean-Pierre Roy nor Michael Williams expected to reach the podium in giant slalom or slalom, or even come close. After all, they were representing Caribbean countries, haven’t been competing that long, and were the oldest skiers in the competition.

Williams, 45, of the Jamaican Ski Team and Roy, 51, of the Haitian Ski Team had a more modest goal of beating the other and collecting on a friendly bet dubbed by Roy as the “Cool Runnings Cup II.”

The one with the worst time is to donate to the other’s charitable activities designed to bring attention to young Jamaicans and Haitians that skiing is something they can do too, Williams told GrindTV.

Michael Williams of the Jamaican Ski Team. Photo from the team's Facebook page
Michael Williams of the Jamaican Ski Team. Photo from the team’s Facebook page

Williams, who has Jamaican roots on his mother’s side, won their bet two years ago at the world championships.

“I’m hoping to defend my title with him,” Williams told the Associated Press. “That’s really my big goal.”

Williams, a Canadian living in Germany, only started skiing 2 1/2 years ago but has come a long way.

“Usain Bolt may be the fastest man on land, but I’m the fastest Jamaican on snow,” Williams, a traveling sales manager for a Swiss watch company, told AP.

And, yes, he’s very familiar with the Jamaican bobsled team from the 1988 Winter Olympics that prompted the movie “Cool Runnings,” which prompted the name of their friendly wager.

“The first reaction I get when I tell people I’m a skier from Jamaica is always about ‘Cool Runnings,'” Williams told AP. “Then people are like, ‘Are you serious?’ When I say I am, they always say, ‘That’s really cool. Good luck.”

Like Williams, Roy started skiing late in the life, at age 39. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, he wanted to give his country something positive, so he founded the Haitian Ski Federation and competed (but was never a factor) in the 2011 World Skiing Championships where he finished behind Williams and began a friendly rivalry.

Roy, born in Haiti but raised in France, operates a computer business in Paris.

Jean-Pierre Roy and Michael Williams are surrounded by kids from a local school at the World Ski Championships in Vail. Photo from the Haitian Ski Federation Facebook page
Jean-Pierre Roy and Michael Williams are surrounded by kids from a local school at the World Ski Championships in Vail. Photo from the Haitian Ski Federation Facebook page

So how did it go at Beaver Creek?

Roy said it all on Facebook: “Haiti beats Jamaica and therefore wins the Cool Runnings Cup II. The score is therefore [1-1]. [The tiebreaker] will take place in 2017 in St. Moritz.”

For the record, in the giant slalom qualifying Thursday, Roy finished 83rd with an overall time of 3:02.03, beating out Williams, who finished 84th and last among finishers with an overall time of 3:41.93. Ted Ligety of the U.S. won the event Friday.

“It was an unforgettable [day] because of these amazing kids that chanted ‘Jamaica, Jamaica Jamaica!!’ the whole way down in both my runs,” Williams wrote on his Facebook page. “Unreal!! Thank you Red Sandstone Public School!! Awesome day!!”

Jean-Pierre Roy and Michael Williams held a friendly rivalry called the Cool Runnings Cup II. Photo is from Roy's Facebook page
Jean-Pierre Roy and Michael Williams held a friendly rivalry called the Cool Runnings Cup II. Photo is from Roy’s Facebook page

In the slalom qualifying on Saturday, Roy finished 61st with an overall time of 3:10.63 and Williams was right behind in 62nd and last among all finishers with a time of 3:50.80. Jean-Baptiste Grange of France was the winner in the finals on Sunday.

So the Haitian topped the Jamaican this time, but it sure sounded as if Roy was more proud for a different achievement.

“I’m the first in the world,” he told the Vail Daily, “to participate in the world championship as a grandfather!”

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