Jamaica’s first women’s sleigh team.
Jazmine fenster is a member of the first women’s Jamaican bobsled team in the winter Olympics. She spoke with Rachel Martin about what this moment meant for women and brought diversity to the sport.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The winter Olympics opened in pyeongchang, South Korea. The first ever female Jamaican bobsled team. They followed the first group of Jamaican men’s sled teams that competed in Calgary 30 years ago, inspiring Hollywood films. Cool run.
(the sound of the movie, “cool run”)
DOUG e. DOUG :(as Sanka Coffie) feel the rhythm. Feel the rhyme. Hurry up. This is sled time. Cool running.
INSKEEP: well, Rachel Martin has a conversation with this year’s Jamaican women, Jazmine fenster. She said the men didn’t win any MEDALS, but they did break the barrier.
JAZMINE fenster: in 1988, if you look at the starting line, you won’t find many minorities. It’s a very European, white sport. It is also dominated by rich people. If you can get the money, or if you know the rich, you have the best equipment, travel and affordable travel. Another stereotype is that if you’ve never seen snow before, or if you’ve never had snow near the snow, how can you get on the sledge? (laughter.) I think that a lot of these cultural differences are preventing a lot of countries from exploring this option.
Lassie Martin, wired: so how did you get into the sleigh?
Fenster: good story – I’m a track and field athlete at the university of Cleveland. This is a primary school in New Jersey. Therefore, when my boss Rob Pasquariello bobsleigh are introduced to one of his colleagues, one of his colleagues think I can change a lot of skill, can even further development, in order to maximize my potential in university after graduation as athletes. He knew I wanted to go to the Olympics, and my goal was to be on the track, but he came up with the idea. We laughed. I did some research. He provided a sports resume for the national team. That was the national team. A few months later, they called me to try it out. That was in 2007. Then 11 seasons, still strong.
Martin: you have to compete with the United States at the 2014 sochi winter Olympics. But this year you decided to compete with Jamaica. What was the decision?
Fenster: it’s very important to me. I am a dual citizen. I’m a hybrid, so my mother was born in the second generation in the United States, and her grandmother came from Latvia, and her background is Europe. My father came to America in the late ’70s and early’ 80s. So – it’s always important for me to represent both sides. You know, my parents never said I had to choose to be a Jamaican or an American. I’m just an American (ph)…
FENLATOR:…… To some extent. So I always agree with that. And I think now, especially young children, in the big stage, social media and see those who will represent them in sports, people from them, with the same background because if there is no such said that they don’t really know opportunity for them. They think it only applies to people who might be, because they’re not, they can’t do that.
Martin: you’re ready, Jazmine?
Fenster: I’m ready. That’s great. You know, my team and I…
Fenster: I’ve talked to my team. We don’t have real Numbers. This is – now we’re ready.
Martin: Jazmine fensoon-she’s a member of the Jamaican history team, the first women’s sled team. They will play in pyeongchang, South Korea.
Good luck, Jazmine. We will watch.
Fenster: thank you very much, Rachel. And thank all the fans for listening.