A British-born former DJ who will become the first Jamaican alpine skier at the Winter Olympics, says he wants to encourage the next generation of Jamaicans to compete at international level.
Benjamin Alexander, 38, whose father is Jamaican, will be the only member of the Jamaican national ski team at the Beijing Winter Olympics next month.
Alexander, who grew up in Wellingborough near Northampton, will compete in the giant slalom event after finishing seventh in the discipline at the Cape Verde National Ski Championships in Liechtenstein earlier this week.
The athlete, who has become an internationally renowned DJ having performed at major festivals such as Burning Man in the United States, only started skiing in 2015 while on vacation in Canada and has no full time coach.
In an interview with ITV’s This Morning, Alexander told hosts Philip Schofield and Rochelle Humes that he wanted to encourage the next generation of Jamaicans to compete in his footsteps.
Alexander said: “My story is really about participating and encouraging the next generation of Jamaicans to get to the Olympics.
“I have already found who will be our representatives in alpine skiing in 2026 and they will be much better than me.”
Benjamin Alexander, 38, whose father is Jamaican, will be the only member of the Jamaican national ski team at the Beijing Winter Olympics next month
When asked if he thought he had a chance of winning, he replied, “I don’t want to take anything away from the athletes who are at the top of my sport. These guys have been skiing since they were two years old.
“Their parents have invested tens of thousands of pounds or even £50,000 a year in their training since they were seven years old and now their country’s ski associations are investing hundreds of thousands of pounds in their development.
“These guys are showing up with 20 different skis while I’m going to show up with just one. It’s like these guys are in Formula 1 and I’m in a go-kart trying to keep up with them.
Alexander counts Dudley Stokes, the pilot of the Jamaican bobsleigh team who competed in the 1988 Olympics, as one of his mentors who keeps in touch with him every day.
Stokes’ efforts to qualify for the Olympics were immortalized in the film Cool Runnings, and Alexander recalls watching the film and thinking it was “the coolest thing since sliced bread”. .
Alexander, who has an English mother and a Jamaican father, said that without trailblazers like Stokes, Jamaica might not have made it to the Winter Olympics yet and that would make their journey “incredibly difficult”.
He told This Morning: “Dudley was fantastic, he and his team pretty much wrote the book on extravagant things for a Caribbean nation at the Winter Games.”
“He and I talk absolutely every week, I think he was the last person I spoke to before I went to bed last night. It was amazing to have him on my team to guide me through some of the tough and challenging times of this project.
Dudley Stokes smiles at members of his team as they demonstrate bobsleigh push form during a send-off reception for the team at a hotel in Tokyo February 4, 1998 ahead of the Winter Olympics
When asked why he chose to compete for Jamaica, Alexander said: “There are a lot of kids like me in the UK who are mixed race.
“As a half-breed, you are always the minority in the room you are in at any given time. So to my black friends I’m the white and to my white friends I’m the black.
‘Most people who ski are white so I’m the black guy and I’m also Jamaican so people always talk about Corn Runnings… It started out as a joke but as a “black rep” in my white group of skier friends, there was never any question of me representing a flag other than Jamaica.
Alexander only started skiing in 2015 when he skied in Whistler, Canada where he was invited to DJ at a party.
‘I just picked a green run [the easiest] and I just kept doing the same race over and over. The first time I went on this race, I think I fell 27 times.
“I think I finished at the end of the day only having crashed seven times in that race and for me that was progress.
‘That’s just how I looked at it all. Scratch a little at a time and try to improve every day.
Alexander then met American skier Gordon Gray in 2019 who told him his technique was “atrocious” but also that he couldn’t understand how Alexander was able to keep up with him.
Alexander, who has an English mother and a Jamaican father, said that without trailblazers like Stokes, Jamaica might not have made it to the Winter Olympics yet and that would make their journey “incredibly difficult”. Pictured: Alexander slides down a slope during a training session at the Kolasin ski resort on December 21, 2021
Alexander explained: “He helped me realize that it would be within my reach if I really applied myself and dedicated myself to it. I’ve been pretty much full time on this assignment ever since.
Almost three years later, Alexander is competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics this week as the first Jamaican to compete in the alpine skiing event.
He says he hopes his experience will show the public that no matter your background – everyone has a place in winter sports.
“If I’m able to start a sport at 32 and go to the Olympics at 38, then there’s no excuse for anyone – whether they’re 40, 50, 60, not to go out and take lessons and have fun off skiing,” he said. Eurosport. ‘It is not too late.’
“When I started this mission it was a really selfish pursuit – let’s see where I can take this for myself,” Alexander said.
“Then after the incident that happened last year with George Floyd, I got so much attention and support as a result of people trying to stand up for diversity in winter sports.”
“Now I almost feel like I’m carrying this pressure to perform and do this thing on my shoulders for diversity in winter sports, so it’s gotten a lot bigger.”
“I’m very happy to be that person who can show that no matter your background, socio-economic or racial, you have a place in winter sports.”
“We try to inspire the next generations,” Alexander said last month.
Alexander slides down a slope during a training session at the Kolasin ski resort on December 21, 2021
“Even if you are from Timor, India or Jamaica, if you start young and believe in it, then maybe we can be elite countries in winter sports within a generation. ”
Alexander comes from a working class background. He said Olympics.com: ‘My mother, my father and my brother have spent most of their professional careers either in factories or in driving.
“None of the three completed secondary education with a decent GCSE or O level.”
But Alexander took a different path and got a scholarship to a private school before studying physics and engineering at Imperial College London.
While in school he started DJing but quit after two years in 2002 after someone was shot and killed while Alexander was queuing to get into a London nightclub.
He said: ‘I just thought to myself this is absolute stupidity. By day I’m basically going to be at MIT – I went to Imperial College of Science, Technology, Medicine to study physics – so by day I’m doing that, and by night I’m hanging out with people trying to s killing each other and I quit music almost instantly at that point.
Alexander then worked in finance in Hong Kong for years, before falling back into DJing. He ended up playing at the Burning Man Festival in the United States and a residency in Ibiza.