Ethiopia’s `Ice Slider’ prepares for 2nd Olympics – By John Wawrow – (AP)

February 12th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When Robel Teklemariam is asked if he has a nickname back home in Ethiopia, the Olympic men’s cross-country skier – yes, you read that right – notes that there’s no word for “snow” in his native language. (more…)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When Robel Teklemariam is asked if he has a nickname back home in Ethiopia, the Olympic men’s cross-country skier – yes, you read that right – notes that there’s no word for “snow” in his native language.

So Teklemariam goes by “Beredoe Shartate,” which is loosely translated to mean “Ice Slider,” a name that might be as curious as the athlete’s presence at the Vancouver Games.

As Ethiopia’s one and only Winter Olympic team member, Teklemariam stood out in his bright green, yellow and red jacket while attending a welcoming ceremony at the athletes’ village on Thursday, a day before the games open.

“For me, I’m a team of one, but I’m representing 80 million people,” he said. “It gives me a lot of pride and honor. It’s the country that I love.”

This is the second consecutive Winter Games for Teklemariam, 35. He became his country’s first Winter Olympic athlete at Turin in 2006, when he finished 83rd in the 15km cross-country classical ski run.

Born in Ethiopia, a nation far better known for its endurance runners than skiers, Teklemariam learned about slopes in the early 1980s, when his family moved to New York after his mother got a job at the United Nations. Teklemariam was then placed in a boarding school in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he first encountered snow.

It was love at first flake.

“The kids built a jump outside on our hill after the first snowfall,” he recalled. “So before I even learned how to make a turn, I was going off straight, jumping, crashing. There was nothing like it. I fell in love with the sport right away.”

Teklemariam eventually tried several winter sports, including snowboarding, before concentrating on cross-country once he attended high school in Colorado. He proved good enough to earn a scholarship at the University of New Hampshire.

Though he trains in both Japan and Europe, Teklemariam now makes his permanent home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Before traveling to Vancouver, Teklemariam said he attracted some interest in Ethiopia, where he was featured in several magazines and newspapers.

He’s not the only athlete in Vancouver hailing from a place not normally associated with winter sports. Travers Dow is a skier from the Cayman Islands. Tucker Murphy is a cross-country skier from Bermuda, and Senegal is represented by skier Seck Leyti.

And, of course, there’s Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, a skier from Ghana, who is the West African nation’s first Winter Olympian. Nkrumah-Acheampong also goes by the nickname “The Snow Leopard,” because of his leopard-print racing suit.

Teklemariam said he’s also been nicknamed “The Snow Lion.” But he prefers “Ice Slider,” because it’s a description that best reflects what he does and who he is.

“Ethiopians try to keep things very, very simple. We don’t complicate things,” Teklemariam said. “In English, they have so many words for snow, sleet, hail, everything. In Ethiopia, there’s just one word for it, beredoe, which means anything frozen that comes down from the sky.”

  1. Anonymous
    | #1

    በታመ ጎበዝ ልጅ ኮርችብህለሆ

  2. dan
    | #2

    i am so proud of you

  3. dan
    | #3


  4. azaria
    | #4

    Ethiopia is a country of shinning stars, albait islands in their own right. How unfortunate we are not blessed with a visionary leadership that could harness the power of such an emensly talented people for a common cause – to prosperity and glory!

    Bravo Robel, your perseverence is inspiring, your love of country and people is refreshing. Best of luck and we are rooting for you you!

  5. Thison
    | #5

    how could Robel entered in the stadium with weyane’s flag which is the symbole of aparthiede in ethiopia? How could he represent ethiopia with out having ethiopia’s in his hand?

  6. Abebe
    | #6

    ኢትዮጵያ ተወልዶ ያደገ የ ኤርትራ ዘር ያለው ኢትዮጵያዊ :: ኣንደ መለስ አይነቱ! ምን ዋጋ አለው!

  7. Ayub
    | #7

    TO Thison:
    What a shame you are forgetting Robel is not only waving a flag of his country,Ethiopia but also representing millions of Ethiopians in a field of sport alien to us. The list you can do is support him rather than sitting and whinging because his not doing your politics. Do not forget he is not there to give lecture in politics or to talk about the government he likes or dislikes. That is your and mine job. Please let him get on the job he is good at. My question to you is are you condemning all our athletes who participate abroad and win and wave Ethiopian flag? do the easiest task THINK, THINK, AND THINK. So easy isn’t it?

  8. Anonymous
    | #8

    Go Robe, go!

    The word for snow in Ethiopa is BEREDO, somtimes BERED in the Northwestern rural areas. “Beredo shertetie” is an attempt at translating the word SKIING.

  9. Thison
    | #9

    Ayub, I am not opposing his participation in the competition. My question is, how could we say Robel represents ethiopia when he walked in with weyane’s flag? Forget about politics. When you have kenya’s in your hand, you are representing kenya, not ethiopia. I hope Robel knows very well ethiopia’s historical flag, that is green- yellow- red with out having any ambasha or hammer on it. The flag which was in Robel’s hand represents an aparthiede system in ethiopia, under this flag, our fertile land sold by TPLF for foreign countries and TPLF gave our fetrtile land to sudan. So any one who has an aparthiede’s flag in his or her hand doesn’t represent ethiopia’s ppl.

  10. Ayub
    | #10

    Sister Thison,
    Are you suggesting Robel is not actually an Ethiopian? Please tell me more so may be i will modify my opinion if he is trying to be an opportunist. But regardless sister, it will be our Ethiopian flag he will be waving. Do not forget there are so many Kenyans’ athlete who ran now for different countries waving different flags. What is your opinion on that? Sister Thison, are you really suggesting Robel is waving a different flag from Trunesh Dibaba, Haile, Kenesisa, Derartu, Gete and so many more? And the insertion of ” ambasha ” what are you trying to imply? yes, ambasha is a a traditional bread from the northern part of Ethiopia namely Tigray do you want to dismiss the existence of Tigray form the map of Ethiopia?

  11. Anonymous
    | #11

    Go Robel. We are all praying for you, and hope you will be victorious. What a guy!! I am very proud of you. You inspire me.

  12. Anonymous
    | #12

    Abebe :ኢትዮጵያ ተወልዶ ያደገ የ ኤርትራ ዘር ያለው ኢትዮጵያዊ :: ኣንደ መለስ አይነቱ! ምን ዋጋ አለው!

    Are you sure that he is Eretrian?

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