Alpine skiing

‘I'm Making History:' Vt. Student to Ski for Ecuador as Country's Only 2022 Olympian

Sarah Escobar, 19, is drawing praise from Ecuadorian government officials

NBC Universal, Inc.

A country not typically associated with snow sports is going to compete at the upcoming Winter Olympics — putting a student at a college in Vermont on the world stage.

"I’m really humbled by this experience," said Sarah Escobar, a first-year student at St. Michael’s College who will represent Ecuador next month at the Olympics. 

Escobar is the lone athlete who will represent the South American nation at the Winter Olympics, becoming its first-ever female winter Olympian and its first alpine skier.

"I’m making history," Escobar observed, adding that she hopes her trip will show girls and young women in Ecuador that it is possible to achieve their dreams.

Escobar, of course, will be Ecuador’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony, which has her coach and fellow skiers on the St. Mike’s alpine team wowed.

"It’s a very unique experience," said Gus MacLeod, the alpine coach for St. Michael’s College. "We’re psyched that she’s going and hope that she has a great time and everybody stays safe."

Escobar is from New Jersey, and can claim dual nationality because her parents are both immigrants to the U.S. from Ecuador. 

"I want to race for Ecuador for my parents," Escobar told NECN & NBC10 Boston in an interview.

Escobar expressed deep gratitude for her parents’ tireless support over the years, especially when it came to traveling long distances with her to competitions.

"She’s made us very, very proud in many ways," Escobar’s mother, Eleana, said in the interview. "We’re proud of the person that she is."

The athlete, who will turn 20 during the Olympics, grew up skiing at Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort. She later competed in high school for Waterville Valley Academy in New Hampshire.

Escobar’s race points qualified her for the giant slalom at the Olympics, but she acknowledged a podium is a long shot.

"My main goal is to finish," Escobar said, noting she still needs to develop a lot of skills as a ski racer during her time at St. Michael’s College. "I think I already won my own gold medal, just by qualifying and being a participant — representing Ecuador and all the Ecuadorians."

Beatriz Almeida de Stein represents Ecuador’s government in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont as the region’s consul general of Ecuador.

"We’re very proud," Almeida de Stein said of Escobar representing Ecuador in the Olympics. "As you know, we don’t have winter sports in Ecuador, so this for us is so special for the whole country that she is going to be there representing our country, our government in this Olympics."

The sole athlete representing Ecuador will have help at the Olympics. Escobar’s dad, Fabian, will serve as a ski tech, and the St. Mike’s assistant ski coach, Nick Stagers, will be there for guidance — along with a handful of others.

"I’m literally living my dream," Escobar said.

According to both Almeida de Stein and media reports, the new president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, will be in China for trade talks and also to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. He’ll certainly be cheering for his country’s delegate to the Games. 

The giant slalom races of the Winter Olympics take place on February 7.

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