Aspiring for the Olympics

Underdog stories can come in many different forms, there’s the standard ‘rags to riches’, the ‘heroic comeback’ and even the ‘plucky youngster’. Benjamin Alexander’s story is none of these, in fact, it probably needs an entirely new genre.

The 37-year-old former international DJ is hoping to represent Jamaica at the next Winter Olympics and he had never even clipped into a pair of skis before he was 32. This is far from a pipe dream, Benjamin’s training and dedication to his goal, would probably even put some Olympians to shame.

Alexander was born and raised in Northamptonshire, to an English mother and Jamaican father. He had a fairly normal English upbringing, after university he worked in finance, but left to pursue a career as an international DJ.

It was a friend from the music scene that invited him on a heli-skiing trip, to Canada in 2015. He didn’t know how to ski, let alone heli-ski. So he joined as one of the non-skiers. During this trip he was flown up to one of the peaks to join the skiers for lunch. Benjamin was blown away by the scenery and conditions: “I said I wouldn’t come back, unless I was part of the skiing crew.”

This lit the touch paper of, potentially, the most incredible Olympic story ever. His first day on skis was in Whistler, two months after his Canada trip, where he threw himself down a green slope over and over and over again. Benjamin Alexander is nothing if not ambitious. He’d already started exploring the possibilities of the Olympics as Jamaica’s first alpine skier.

After only a few more days of skiing, he had the chance to ski with former US national skier, Gordon Gray, who was intrigued by what Benjamin could do on his skis: “I have no idea how you’re keeping up with me. I’ve been skiing all my life, I skied for the US Team, you’ve been skiing for 20 days. You’re a lunatic! You’re fearless. That’s a good thing, we can teach you how to ski, the technique, but if you’re scared, there’s no chance. You have half the battle won already.”

They settled on the discipline of Giant Slalom, because the prerequisites for the technical events of Alpine Skiing (Slalom and Giant Slalom) are much more lenient than they are for the speed events, because of the safety element.

The Jamaican randomly found a ski coach online to see how hard it would be to achieve qualification status: “A coach in Canada put together a plan for my whole journey. The plan for the 2020 season was to spend as much time on snow and as much time in gates training as possible. With the intention of competing in eight to ten races. I had ten races booked, but I lost the last four when we lost the end of the season. So, I’ve completed six races and have already reduced my points half way to qualification level. The route that he then put together for me, would be to continue racing - next season - and get about two dozen races. I feel confident that I will be qualified before the end the next season.”

Like everyone, COVID-19 has severely affected Benjamin’s regime, but he never let it stop his training…

“When Corona meant chairlifts all over the world had to close, the only option for me, to continue skiing, was to become a backcountry skier.

I’ve done almost 100 days in the backcountry, since the chairs stopped in March.

I have hiked just shy of a 300,000 vertical feet, which is basically the height of ten Mount Everests. As a result, my cardio, endurance and leg strength have gone through the roof. So much so that I might attempt a few cross country races next season."

So not only did it not slow him down, it added a new discipline for him to explore. Don’t bet against seeing Benjamin Alexander flying the Jamaican Flag at Beijing 2022.

Follow Ben on his path to Beijing on Instagram at

Picture credit Kristina Brik

Article written by Matt Masson

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