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Haitian Snowboarder Yannis Roy At The Snowboarding World Championships


Good Luck Yannis, we are rooting for your success!

According to Thestar.com,   Snowboarder Yannis Roy, 25, will represent the Haitian Ski Federation at the upcoming Snowboarding World Championships in Stoneham,QC. The software engineer whose father fled Haiti as a child, lives in Paris, France, and hopes to boost the image of Haiti three years after the deadly 2010 earthquake.

Most athletes train and compete their entire lives to make it to the snowboarding world championships, which begin this weekend in the resort village of Stoneham. Yannis Roy, the sole representative of the Haitian National Ski Federation, had his first race a week ago.

“It was great, but it was very difficult,” he said of his three-day adventure in the French Alps, the site of the European Cup. “I’ve only gone snowboarding a few times.” Unlike the hundreds of other world-class snowboarders who will be competing over the next two weekends at the championship event north of Quebec City, Roy’s main goal is not to win. He would be more than pleased just to make it down the hill in one piece after injuring himself in the final jump of his European Cup outing. The real objective, he said in an interview from Paris, is to attract attention to the country that his father, Thierry, fled as a five-year-old boy, but never forgot. Roy was educated in Haitian culture and he learned the Creole language, despite being raised an ocean away in France.

Now he wants to share the rich and beautiful things that he associates with Haiti with the rest of the world in the hopes it will shift people’s focus from the misery, malady and mismanagement of country three years after the deadly earthquake. When the ground shook on the afternoon of Jan. 12, 2010, killing more than 200,000 people, flattening buildings and homes and wiping out large swaths of the national government, Roy began thinking about how best to help the country. “Of course, I supported an NGO and raised money from people, but that wasn’t enough,” he said. “I had to find something else.”

In the wake of the earthquake, Jean-Pierre Roy, the snowboarder’s uncle, had the audacity to found a Haitian Ski Federation. The Paris businessman, an occasional skier and grandfather who is currently 49 years old, explained, after competing in the 2011 World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, that his intentions were both personal and promotional.

“When I see the Haitian flag among all the others, it does something to my heart,” he said in a video posted on Facebook site ( http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150097267405742). Roy was inspired by his uncle. “I asked myself … why shouldn’t I also participate in this great story with this sport that I love, even if I haven’t mastered it?” he said. In this instance, it was, in fact, that easy. Unlike the world cup ski and snowboard circuits, the annual world championship event allows entrants from all national ski federations to participate. So it made no difference that Roy tried snowboarding for the first time at the age of 14, but only hit the slopes once a year at the most. It doesn’t matter that he is a software engineer and lives in Paris, while the rest of the field spends every waking moment sliding down and climbing up the world’s top ski runs. Still, Roy did his due diligence before committing to the competition. He contacted top French snowboarder Pierre Vaultier, who specializes in the snowboardcross discipline, and asked about the wisdom of his plan.

“He offered me a half-hour lesson that turned into two hours …. He gave me some advice and he told me it’s possible that I could make it through the course, which was reassuring.” I’m not an athlete at the level of those who are competing in the world championships, but I’m going to do my best anyway and everything possible to get through it. For Haiti, it’s sort of the same thing; the country has had a lot of difficulty.

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