Armenians ski in Vancouver
Four athletes compete in Winter Olympics
Published: Saturday February 20, 2010
Washington - At the Winter Olympics underway in Vancouver Armenia is represented by four skiers: 21-year-old Armenian American Ani-Matilda Serebrakian and three athletes from Armenia: 17-year-old Sergei Mikaelian, 20-year-old Kristine Khachatryan and 22-year-old Arsen Nersisyan.
Since Armenia began taking part in Winter Olympics in 1994, the newly-independent country dispatched similarly modest delegations and has yet to win any medals or even come close.
Armenian American participation
A sophomore at the University of San Francisco, Ms. Serebrakian will compete in slalom and giant slalom on February 24 and 26. She is described by her former coach as a dedicated and talented skier who knows how to race.
Ms.Serebrakian, whose parents came to U.S. from Iran in the late 1970s, says she is proud to represent Armenia, a country she visited two years ago for the first time.
"We kind of fell in love with" Armenia, Ms. Serebrakian told San Francisco Chronicle. "That brought us to qualifying for the Olympics and here I am.''
Ani's brother Arman, a 22 year-old skier at University of Colorado, Boulder, also attempted to qualify but did not succeed.
According to San Jose Mercury-News, Ms. Serebrakian is the second Bay Area Armenian to represent Armenia at the Olympic Games. Dan Janjigian together with Yorgo Alexandrou made up Armenia's bobsled team in Salt Lake City in 2002.
They were preceded in 1994 Lillehammer games by the bobsled team of Joe Almasian and Ken Topalian from Boston.
Seeking a foothold in Winter Olympics
Skiing is taking off in Armenia with new and much improved facilities established at the mountain winter resort in Tsakhkadzor.
According to a report in Golos Armenii, Sergei Mikaelian who trains in Ashotsk, one of Armenia's coldest and most snowy districts, comes from a veritable skiing family. His father Artur Mikaelian now trains the Armenian national skiing team and his mother Alla Kapchigayeva was a six-time Soviet skiing champion.
Last year, Mr. Mikaelian swept the Armenian cross-country skiing championship. But the young athlete's first Olympic performance was not as impressive when he finished 70th of 95 participants in the 15-kilometer free race.
In the Ladies' 10-kilometer free race Ms. Khachatryan came 76th out of 78 athletes. Prior to the games she told ArmSport.am that she was aiming for a position in Top 50.
Meantime, Mr. Nersisyan is competing in slalom and giant slalom on February 23 and 27. Selected to carry Armenia's flag at the games' opening ceremony on February 12, Mr. Nersisyan had placed at top of recent competitions in Georgia and Turkey and appears to be Armenia's best hope for a higher placement.
For Ms. Serebrakian and Mr. Nersisyan Olympics proved disappointing. They were unable to finish Men's and Ladies' Giant Slalom competitions, skiing off racetracks. And both ended up being disqualified from their respective Slalom races.