Roberto Carcelén loves to surf. He likes to run, too, having even operated a business out of his Seattle-area home arranging running tours on his native Peru.
But it wasn’t until his American wife, Kate, suggested that he try skiing in 2005 – it’s like surfing on frozen water, she told him – that the now 43-year-old found his Olympic aspiration. Along with two compatriots, he will be representing his country in the Sochi Games.
Though a latecomer to cross-country skiing, he did have the advantage that there isn’t much of a tradition in South America in that discipline. Carcelén, who also is a consultant with Microsoft, qualified easily for the 15 kilometer race at the 2010 Vancouver Games — becoming one of the first Peruvian athletes to participate at the Winter Olympics.
“Most of the athletes I’ll be competing with,” he told the New York Times before Vancouver, “have been doing the sport since they were born. They train full time and have 24/7 coaching. That’s a whole different lifestyle. I think I can give 100 percent of myself and prove that I can measure myself to the best in the world.”
He finished 94th.
He hopes to do better this time around. He only wishes that Kate and their daughter could come to Sochi to watch him compete, but questions about security at the Games concerned him.
“I’m going to be up training in the mountains,” Carcelén explained to CNN, “while the family would be down in the city outside the Olympic rink.”
A week ago, Carcelén was in a training accident in Austria that left him with broken and bruised ribs, the skier reported on his website, and a months’ worth of recovery time.
Even so, he plans to go ahead and race in the 15K. “This is one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced,” he wrote. “But this is what the Olympic spirit is all about!”