Winter Olympians

Party of One: Nations With a Single Athlete at the 2022 Winter Olympics

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Winter Olympics have a long-and-storied tradition of surprise entrants, perhaps none more famous than the Jamaican bobsled team that spawned the veeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrry loosely-based movie "Cool Runnings" starring John Candy and Doug E. Doug.

But it's still an incredibly special honor to be the lone athlete representing a single nation at the Olympics despite the many paths they may take to get there.

And we don't want to let anyone down by not acknowledging the awesome Benjamin Alexander (alpine skiing), who will be the lone Jamaican not competing in bobsled.

Here's a look at the single-athlete (and dual-athlete) nations appearing at the 2022 Winter Olympics:

Firsts for African, Caribbean nations

Two nations will be represented at the Winter Olympics for the first time, both in alpine skiing.

African nation Eritrea is sending Western Canadian skier Shannon-Ogbani Abeda, and she'll be joined by Haiti's debutant: Richardson Viano, who is just 19.

Viano will be the first skier from a Caribbean nation to compete in an Olympics after being adopted by a French-Italian couple from an orphanage at the age of 3.

It is a dream for me to be here and represent Haiti in a Winter Olympics for the first time. I hope this will show our country is about more than earthquakes and other disasters.

Richardson Viano to the PA news agency

Alpine skiing includes American-born pair

Viano's event features the overwhelming majority of "lone wolves," tracing the alphabet from Albania to Uzbekistan.

New Jersey's Sarah Escobar is a student at St. Michael's College in Vermont and said she will have "already won her gold medal" when she hits the slopes to represent Ecuador, the birth nation of her parents.

Asa Miller (Philippines) hails from Portland, Oregon. The 21-year-old is in his second Olympics following a giant slalom run at PyeongChang.

Alpine skiers who will be flag bearers as their nation's only representative include Denni Xhepa (Albania), Yianno Kouyoumdjian (Cyprus), Carlos Maeder (Ghana), Arif Mohd Khan (India), Maksim Gordeev (Kyrgyzsyan), Yassine Aouich (Morocco), Ornella Oettl Reyes (Peru), Karim Mohammad (Pakistan), Fayik Abdi (Saudi Arabia), Yohan Goncalves Goutt (Timor-Leste), Kamiljon Tukhtaev (Uzbekistan), Escobar, Miller, Alexander, and Viano.

California's Maltese snowboarder; Virgin Islands' skeleton racer

Malta's first Olympic snowboarder will be Jenise Spiteri, a 29-year-old born in California. Spiteri says she was "one spot away" from qualifying for the 2018 Olympics.

Nigeria is sending cross-country skier Samuel Uduigowme Ikpefan, who was born in the French Alps, and California-born college math instructor Katie Tannenbaum takes to the skeleton track as a representative of the Virgin Islands.

With dazzling digital displays, a never-ending flurry of snowflakes and an undercurrent of political tension, the 2022 Winter Olympics officially kicked off in Beijing on Friday.
Copyright NBC Olympics - 2022 Winter Olympics
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