Back on Ice: Meet Your 2014 Jamaican Bobsled Team

January 21, 2014

Words by Jesse Serwerโ€”


Waiting for a plane yesterday in Montego Bay, I ate breakfast atย Sangster International Airport’s “Jamaican Bobsled Cafe,” as a TV behind the bar playedโ€”what elseโ€”Cool Runnings. For many people โ€”including those who operate the concessions in MoBay, apparently โ€” the 1993 Disney film depicting the Jamaican bobsled team’s 1988 Olympic debut is a quintessential touchstone of Jamaican culture.

I couldn’t help but ask my server, Is the movie always on here? Yes, All day, every day, she replied. Sometimes I find myself calling my kids ‘Sanka’, she added, referring to the movie’s lead character, played by Doug E. Doug. While that sounds maddening, varietyโ€”in the form of a sequelโ€”may soon come to the Jamaica Bobsled Cafe. After a 12-year absence, the Jamaican bobsled team is returning to the Winter Olympics this year in Sochi.

Adding a new twist, the funding to get to Russia is coming from crowdfunding efforts, including some using “cryptocurrencies” such as Dogecoin. Fans and supporters raised over $120,000 to cover travel costs and equipment expenses, after Olympic organizers said they would help meet some but not all of the teamโ€™s financial needs.

Though Jamaica Bobsled will compete in the two-man competition, five members have been named to its delegation: pilot Winston Watts, brakeman Marvin Dixon, backup Wayne Blackwood, coach Thomas Samuel and “mission chief” Chris Stokes, a member of Jamaica bobsledding’s original 1988 team. Watts, who is 46, emerged after nearly a decade of retirement to lead the team in qualifiers.

That’s Blackwood, Dixon and Wayne Thomas, another coach and Olympic veteran, pictured above, during an appearance at the Sundance Film Festival yesterday.

The two-man bobsled competition will take place on February 19 and 20.