A team of one makes a nation of fans proud
WEST VANCOUVER – “Today is the day,” Errol Kerr posted on his Facebook page Sunday morning. “It’s moments in life like this that I was born for.”
Hours later, after his qualifying runs for the inaugural Olympic men’s skiercross at Cypress Mountain, Kerr checked his page and found 2,000 new messages.
For a young man with ties to so many places, Kerr, 23, said the outpouring of support let him know just who he was racing for.
“I don’t know 2,000 people,” said Kerr, who was born in New York, and grew up racing motorbikes and skis in Truckee, Calif., but competes in skiercross for Jamaica, a tie that comes from his late Jamaican-born father. “These are people who out of the goodness of their heart are genuinely excited.”
That’s a genuine statement. Kerr, who finished ninth Sunday after coming in third in his quarterfinal heat, behind eventual gold medalist Michael Schmid of Switzerland and Davey Barr of Canada, said bars in Jamaica, where his brother lives, sold out of tickets for viewing parties. And back in Truckee, also the home of U.S. skiercrosser Daron Rahlves, Team Jamaica sweatshirts are ubiquitous.
There was also a large presence of friends and family in the grandstands Sunday, wearing green, black and red, waving Jamaican flags and rooting on the Caribbean nation’s “team of one.”
“My friends started partying last night and aren’t going to quit until I had a medal in my hand this afternoon,” Kerr said. “There’s just more support for me here than anyone else. I really wish I had delivered.”
Kerr vowed that he’ll be back in 2014, to compete at the Sochi Games in Russia, after getting his first taste of Olympic competition. He carried the flag for Jamaica in the Games’ opening ceremonies.
He qualified for the Olympics by racking up enough International Ski Federation points to be among the top 35 skiercrossers in the world, and was the ninth-fastest skier in qualifying runs Sunday. He admitted that he made a mistake at the start in the quarterfinal heat, and had he not, a semifinal slot could have possibly been his.
“I haven’t messed up a start all week and finally that run was the first time I missed the landing on the first feature and just couldn’t get going after that,” he said. “I just think nerves go to me. I didn’t quite catch the transition. … But I’m young. I’m only going to get better.”
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