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Lovable Losers: 11 Of The Worst Winter Olympians Of All-Time

by: Esteban On  Tuesday, February 11, 2014

worst winter olympians of all-time

Every time the Olympics roll around we’re guaranteed to see some pretty remarkable performances, and the 2014 Winter Olympics are certainly no different. However, in addition to the great performances by legendary Olympians, your pretty much also guaranteed some really terrible performances by really terrible Olympians. And that’s what we’re going to focus on today: the world’s worst Winter Olympians.

Now, I should begin by saying that, in a certain sense, many of the athletes on this list are truly great Olympians. Some of them dreamed an impossible dream and made it a reality through hard work and dedication, and stories like that are always inspiring. On the other hand, in terms of pure athletic ability, these people just are not that good compared to the men and women they competed or will complete against.

So that’s what I mean by “worst”—remarkable human beings as such, unremarkable human beings as athletes.

Let’s dig in, shall we?



11. Hubertus Von Hohenlohe (Mexico)

hubertus von hohenlohe

Chances are you’ve heard of this guy by now—the German Prince who grew up in Austria but was born in Mexico City, has competed in alpine skiing for Mexico since 1984, and will wear this amazing mariachi ski suit in Sochi. Some people have called him The Most Interesting Olympian in the World, which is probably not far off.

In any case, back in the day old Hubertus was a pretty great skier. In 1984 he finished a very respectable 26th in the slalom, and in 1988 he finished 30th. However, in 1988 he was 29 years old, so from there it’s been all downhill.

Mexico refused to send him to the games from 1998 to 2006 because it was too much of a hassle to send a one-man delegation. But Hohenlohe returned in 2010…and finished 46 in slalom and 78 in giant slalom.

This year, Von Hohenlohe is 55, which makes him the oldest Olympian of all-time. And that, surely, is why he’s competing—to become trivia and inspire middle aged people to stay active. Because he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Sochi of getting anywhere near the podium.


10. Shiva Keshavan (India)

shiva keshavan

Shiva Keshavan is a real athlete. He’s not some novelty guy who started luging two years ago because he know he could get to the Olympics through loopholes. This year marked the fourth time Keshavan has made the Olympics, so he’s been training hard for a long time and is no doubt better than I could ever be at the luge.

That being said, compared to the other lugers he’s gone up against over the years, Keshavan simply is not that good. His best finish came in 1998, when he placed 25th. This year he finished 37th in the men’s singles race, which only sounds decent until you realize there were only 39 competitors.

But hey, give Shiva an A for effort. For a guy who lives in a country where they don’t even have a luge track, he’s pretty awesome.


9. Gary and Angelica Di Silvestri (Domenica)

Gary di Silvestri, Angelica di Silvestri

Husband and wife Gary and Angelica Di Silvestri seem like swell folks. The Caribbean nation of Domenica granted them citizenship as a thanks for doing so much charity work there, which is much more than anyone has ever given me for any charity work I’ve ever done.

However, they don’t quite stack up to the other athletes competing in cross-country skiing events in Sochi. For starters, he is 46 and she is 48, which is old. Also, they didn’t pick up cross-country until 15 years ago, when both were over 30 years old. Thus, as you would expect, they had a pretty difficult time qualifying for the Olympics.

They made it happen, though, and in the coming days you can watch them get totally destroyed by a bunch of Norwegians.


8. Prawat Nagvajara (Thailand)

prawat nagvajara

Speaking of really bad cross-country skiers, meet Prawat Nagvajara. When he saw another athlete on this list compete in a cross-country race in 1998 (don’t worry, we’ll get to that guy soon enough), Prawat thought, “hey, can suck at the Olympics, too!” So he started cross-country skiing, and pretty soon he was able to convince the Thai Olympic Committee to send him to the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

How’d he do? Well, he got disqualified from the 30km race when he got lapped, and he finished 68th out of 71 racers in the 1.5km sprint—beating a guy from Cameroon and a guy from Costa Rica.

That didn’t deter this electrical engineering professor (that’s right) from competing again, though. Nagvajara went to Torino in 2006 and finished 97th in the 15km classical race.


7. Vanessa-Mae (Thailand)

vanessa-mae vanakorn

In fairness to Vanessa-Mae, the world famous British violinist, we haven’t seen her compete yet. Who knows? She may do really well in the giant slalom race. But probably not.

Though she’s skied her whole like, Vanessa only started training for the Olympics six months ago, and she just barely met the FIS qualification standards by competing in a couple of juniors events. Her current world ranking? It’s 3,166.

I bet all the other women who worked their whole lives to compete in the Olympics but didn’t make the cut this year really wish they were wealthy and from Thailand right now.


6. Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong (Ghana)

kwame nkrumah-acheampong (the snow leopard)

Remember this guy from Vancouver just four years ago? The Snow Leopard? He started skiing in 2004 while working at a British indoor ski park, and since he got pretty good he figured, hey, why not compete for Ghana?

So that’s what he did. Kwame became Ghana’s first ever terrible Winter Olympian.

Don’t get me wrong, if I stepped onto the Olympic slalom course I would break my neck and die, guaranteed. So on a certain level I respect anyone who can do what this guy did. But compared to the other alpine skiers he looked kind of ridiculous.

He did finish 53rd out of the 54 guys who finished the race, though. So that’s something.


5. Robel Teklemariam (Etheopia)

robel teklemariam

Compared to people like me, Robel Teklemariam is the Wayne Gretzky of cross-country skiing. I tried the sport once and nearly became the first person ever to die of lactic acid poisoning. However, compared to the Scandinavians who dominate the sport, this guy is awful. He became Ethiopia’s first ever Winter Olympian in 2006 and competed in the 15km event, but finished 104th.

Of course, his goal in competing wasn’t to earn a medal but to inspire Ethiopians to dream big. So I guess he succeeded at that.


4. 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team

1988 jamaican bobsled team calgary

Everybody loved the plucky 1988 Jamaican bobsled team immortalized in the 1993 film Cool Runnings. They showed the world what the human spirit can do, and they competed with class and integrity. However, it’s important to keep in mind that they really did suck at bobsledding. How could they not?

Of course it should also be noted that the original Jamaican bobsled team started a revolution. Jamaica fielded bobsled teams in 1992, 1994, 1998, and 2002. In 1994 they finished 14th, ahead of the USA, Russia, and France, while in 2002 their two-man team set an Olympic record for their push-start. Then, one of those two guys—Lascellas Brown—wound up moving to Canada and would later win a silver and a bronze as a Canuck in 2006 and 2010.


3. Philip Boit (Kenya)

philip boit

Philip Boit had never tried cross-country skiing until two years before he competed in the 1998 Winter Olympics. In fact, until two years before the 1998 Winter Olympics, Philip Boit had never even seen snow. But thanks to Nike, who sponsored his training, he made the switch from middle distance running to cross-country skiing and actually qualified for the Nagano Games to become Kenya’s first ever Winter Olympian.’

Inspirational? You bet. But Boit was still terrible. In 1998 he finished dead last, 20 minutes behind the gold medal winner. In 2002 he finished 64th, beating three people. In 2006 he finished 92nd, beating five people. But that was it. That was as good as Boit got.

Still, he was a nice lesson: Kenyan kids can do anything they set their minds’ to…with the sponsorship of a major multi-national corporation.


2. Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards (Great Britain)

eddie the eagle edwards

The Jamaican bobsled team may have seen their story turned into a movie, but they were nowhere near as ridiculous as Great Britian’s Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. (Real name: Michael Edwards.) In 1988 he became the first British athlete to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping, which was cool. However, he really, really sucked, and thus finished dead last by a long shot in both the 70m and 90m events.

Of course, the international media and fans around the world just loved this guy, who was almost as funny-looking as he was bad at ski jumping. But the International Olympic Committee was less impressed. After the Calgary Games, they created what became known as the “Eddie the Eagle Rule” establishing stricter minimum performance requirements for Olympic hopefuls.


1. 1948 Italian Hockey Team

ice hockey 1948 winter olympics

As bad as Eddie the Eagle was, he can’t hold a flame to some of the men’s ice hockey teams we’ve seen over the years. In 1960, for example, Japan and Australia both sent teams to the Winter Games, and in the first round they were outscored 38-1 and 30-2 respectively—and that was in just two games. In the consolation round against Finland these teams faired even worse. Australia got outscored 57-8 in four games, which included 11-3 and 13-2 losses to Japan, who themselves got trounced 11-3 in the final game against Finland.

However, as bad as those Japanese and Australian hockey teams were in 1960, they were nothing compared to Team Italy in 1948.

Are you ready for this? In 1948, Italy lost 22-3 to Czechoslovakia, 16-0 to Switzerland, 31-1 to the USA, 21-1 to Canada, 13-7 to Poland, 16-5 to Austria, 23-0 to Sweden, and—in a really tight one—14-7 to the United Kingdom.

That’s 24 goals for, 156 against.

So congratulations to the 1948 Italian men’s ice hockey team.They are the worst Winter Olympians of all-time!