Dow Travers '12 was on a ski lift at the Mountain Ski Resort in New Hampshire when he agreed to an interview with The Herald on Sunday. Travers was competing in a race for the Brown ski team, just days before he headed to Vancouver to compete in the giant slalom — the first athlete to represent the Cayman Islands in the Winter Olympics.
The Cayman Islands is a British territory of 56,000 people located in the Caribbean. The tax-exempt trio of islands is known for its abundance of coral reefs and white beaches, in addition to having more registered businesses than citizens, according to BBC News.
Though the picturesque islands don't immediately conjure images of alpine skiing, Travers said his interest first emerged during family vacations to the Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado. Travers began racing when he was 13 after an exchange program in France.
Travers said his Olympic ambitions began several years ago when his coach told him he would be able to compete if he improved in a few specific areas.
"A few years ago, my coach told me I could qualify if I got my points down to a certain level. And I focused on getting those points down, and he was right," Travers said.
Travers has been steadfast in his dedication to training. Though he ordinarily struggles to practice 50 days a year — in addition to Brown ski team's month-and-a-half-long, biweekly trainings — he took the last year off from school to dedicate 200 days a year to skiing.
On top of Travers' sheer commitment to skiing, he manages to find time for a second passion — rugby. As a freshman, Travers joined the Brown rugby team and soon became instrumental to its success.
"Soon after coming to Brown, Dow became one of our starters," said Brown Rugby Coach David LaFlamme. "He's a very aggressive player."
Rugby team captain Andrew Alvarez '11 also praised Travers' commitment to the team. "Last fall season, he was at every practice and at every game. That's just the kind of guy he is," Alvarez said. Alvarez added that the team was not surprised that Travers had reached the Olympic level in skiing "because he really is talented at both sports."
Travers' role on the team also led Brown Rugby to tour the Cayman Islands in the spring of 2008. The team played three matches there, the last of which was against the Cayman National First XV team. Travers' performance in that match led the Cayman Islands to invite Travers back to play for them in a World Cup qualifier. Travers said he wants to play rugby in the 2016 Olympics, LaFlamme said.
One of the main reasons that Travers, a potential geobiology concentrator, chose Brown because it was a place where he could pursue three of his passions.
"I came to Brown because it was one of the universities where I could balance academics with the athletics that I do," Travers said. "It was one of those places where I could ski and play rugby and get a great education."
Travers said it has been "incredibly difficult" to balance his athletic and academic commitments. "Most of my professors have been very flexible, though I've been having a bit of trouble with the deans," he said.
With the Opening Ceremony taking place Friday night, Travers said he is "feeling sore and tired from weeks of training," but he expects to do his best when he competes. "I don't really want to leave anything behind on that hill, and I want to make my country proud."