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Island nation to represent at 2014 Winter Olympics

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By Joseph T. O’Connor Explore Big Sky Senior Editor

BIG SKY – Dominica is a small island nation in the Caribbean, covered largely by a tropical rainforest. Its average temperature is around 85 F and has an economy based largely on its banana industry.

This February, two athletes will represent Dominica in its first ever Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Gary and Angelica di Silvestri, longtime cross-country skiers, will be competing in the Men’s 15 km Classic and Women’s 10 km Classic disciplines, respectively.

The di Silvestris are the only husband and wife team to compete in these Sochi Olympics, and they’re ready to display Dominica’s colors proudly at the Games.

“We heard that we are the only married couple to compete in the same sport at the same Olympics this year,” said Angelica, 48, before a high-altitude training session at Lone Mountain Ranch on Jan. 21. “It has to be verified,” she added, “but it would be very cool if it was.”

Gary, who turns 47 on Feb. 3, has been told it may have snowed in Dominica once before, but certainly not enough to train for the rigorous competition the two face in Sochi. The couple celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary on Jan. 2, have been training on roller skis and following the snow around the world for nearly a year.

Snow isn’t new to either of the di Silvestris, according to Angelica, who grew up in Cosenza, Italy, and is also a citizen of Dominica, along with her husband.

“My dad put me on skis at 4 years old,” Angelica said. “I guess I owe my passion for skiing to his passion for [the sport].”

The di Silvestris were not anticipating these Olympics. In fact, they didn’t find out until November 2012 that they would be representing Dominica in Sochi. But they’ve stayed fit training, and have been spending summers skiing in New Zealand, according to Gary.

“We are chasing the snow,” he said. “We’ve spent 10 of the past 12 months on snow and have been looking for it for the past several years.”

Gary, a successful investment manager, left the finance world in 2005 to pursue philanthropic activities and athletics, including a professional Nordic skiing career.

Also president of the National Ski Association of Dominica, Gary will carry the country’s flag in the opening ceremonies on Feb. 7. “It’s an honor that I look forward to and participating in the event is going to be fantastic,” he said.

To watch an interview with the di Silvestris, click here.

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