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Skiing from the Hill to Whistler

No, Bob Costas, his name does not rhyme with snow. But it does rhyme with another word that has been equally relevant for those who know him and his story: "Wow."

Dow Travers '12 walked into the Olympic stadium, bearing his nation's flag, seeming a little unsure of how to make it wave quite right — but he soon had it flying true. The realization that he was carrying the flag at the opening ceremony didn't quite sink in until he turned the corner and came out of the tunnel.

He said it was a great honor for him to represent the Cayman Islands, and his father, Anthony Travers, called it a "moment of fierce national pride," adding with a laugh, "well, national — in parenthesis — pride."

Dow has extended the run of Brunonians at the Olympic Games. He qualified for these Olympics over the summer, gaining enough points in a final giant slalom race in Chile.

The wait for race day in Vancouver was a long one, as the temperamental conditions at Whistler were less than favorable leading up to the games. As a result, Travers and the other skiers simply couldn't put down as many training runs as they wanted. But Travers still enjoyed the practice runs he did get.

"I've got to say (the coolest part) was free skiing on the race course on the day before because that was my first time on a World Cup–treated course," said Travers. The course was injected with water so it froze overnight. "It was bulletproof ice," he said. When he crossed the finish line for the first time, he couldn't stop smiling.

And he got his wish the next day. He was the 101st competitor to start out of the gates, leaping to 75th after his first run and 69th after his second.

Gene Bridgewater, his coach, told him before the race to go out there, "and give it everything you've got — see what happens in the end," Bridgewater said.

"On the day of, there were a little bit of nerves, but I managed to find my own zone. I can't be thinking about what everyone else is doing," Travers said. "In the start gate, I can only control the aspects of my racing, and let the rest come after that."

In the end, he crossed the finish line to see a contingent of Islanders, who had traveled thousands of miles to Vancouver, waving the flag and screaming his name.

"This was my first time on an Olympic course, and all I had hoped was to put down two clean runs and make my country proud. I'm pretty happy with that."

More than just skiing though, Travers got to partake in the full Olympic experience. In addition to carrying the Cayman flag, he was constantly surrounded by his role models and skiing idols.

"I sat next to (Swiss downhiller) Didier Cush on the bus, and since then I sat next to a few other names." But he didn't get to talk to them too much. "They all seemed to be pretty zoned in — I didn't want to interrupt them."

Travers, his father and his coach all called the Olympic Village incredible. "The atmosphere has been amazing. I was surprised by how friendly everyone was," Travers said. "I thought some people would look down on and not be good to small nations."

Au contraire, Canada. "The people have been extremely friendly. The media is all very interested in the Cayman Islands story — a lot of press for the Caymans and for Dow himself," Bridgewater said.

Having spent so much time with the media, Travers wasn't able to see as many other events as he would have liked.

He constantly had other athletes coming up to him, asking to trade pins with him, a tradition at the games.

If all goes well, Travers could have a chance to be swapping pins at the 2016 Rio Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee just made the decision to add rugby as an Olympic sport. That's right — the dedicated skier is also a bonafide rugger. During his first year at Brown, the freshman made Bruno's starting rugby squad. And when Brown just so happened to be touring the Islands, Travers faced his home country's national team. The coach immediately recognized his talent.

Since then, Travers has been playing for and starting on the Cayman team in World Cup qualifiers and North American and Caribbean championships.

At his prep school in England, he both started the ski club and played for the rugby team.

"He's a fierce tackler, and he's developed extra strength and training from skiing," Travers' father said.

Don't forget the name Travers — it seems Anthony, the father of Dow, 22, Dillon, 18, and Dean, 13, is striving to make it indelible. The family often drove many miles through Europe to attend competitions. Dillon's ski career peaked at a younger age in Europe, but Dean, the youngest, has been training in Aspen, Colo., for two years and has already won a gold medal at the Junior Olympics and a bronze at the Whistler Cup. The Travers brothers could be competing side-by-side in years to come.

"My little brother is following fast in my footsteps," Travers said.

Having also attended the closing ceremonies late Sunday night, what did he mention he would miss most about leaving Olympic life and the village?

"I've been spoiled. All Coke and Powerade products are free," he said. "I'm going to have to buy Coke after I leave."

Check out Vanity Fair's "Faces of the Games" slideshow online. Travers is the third athlete pictured, right behind American figure skater Evan Lysacek and snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler.



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