richardson viano haitian skier
Richardson Viano, a Haitian-born skier, will compete in alpine skiing at this year's Winter Olympic Games. (Courtesy: Getty Images)

A 19-year-old skier from the village of Croix-des-Missions, near Port-au-Prince, will soon become the first Haitian to compete in the Winter Olympics. 

Richardson Viano is poised to make history at this month’s Games in Beijing, the International Olympic Committee announced on Twitter. The Games officially begin on Feb. 4 and run until Feb. 20.

Viano was adopted from Haiti in 2005 by an Italian couple and has lived in France since age 3. He originally planned to compete for France, until the Haitian Ski Federation contacted him in 2019.

“Thanks to this commitment, I was able to get closer to my country of origin,” Viano said on the Olympics website. “I got back in touch with the orphanage where I came from and I am proud to show them my success.” 

The Federation has thanked the broader Haitian community and encouraged more support during this year’s Olympics. “Send us messages, likes, share the news, be by our side, it’s our fuel to go even further for Haiti,” read a statement announcing Viano’s qualification. 

The Ski Federation was founded by French ski coach Thierry Montillet and Haiti native Jean Pierre Roy, who competed in six World Championships from 2011 to 2021. They hope the Federation will “communicate positively” about Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

Viano finished 35th in the giant slalom at last year’s World Championships and will compete in the same event, one of numerous alpine skiing events at this year’s Olympics, according to the Games site

Alpine skiing starts Sunday morning in Beijing and events will run throughout the Games. 

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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