On board for Bahamas

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

What started out as a pipe dream is looking more and more like history in the making.

Halfpipe ace Korath Wright, who was raised in Calgary and honed his talents at Canada Olympic Park, is gearing up to become the first Bahamian athlete to represent the sun-soaked Caribbean country at the Winter Olympics.

"Representing the Bahamas, it's a huge responsibility because I'm the only one, so it's all eyes on me," said Wright, who's back at his old stomping grounds at C.O.P. for this week's Burton Canadian Open.

"I really want to make (Bahamaians) proud. I really want to show them that I'm in this and that I'm putting in tons of work and that I'm getting results.

"It's a huge amount of pressure, but really, it's the pressure I'm putting on myself. It's a great opportunity, and I'm grateful for it."

Wright, who was born on the island of Nassau but only lived there for about a year before relocating to Halifax and then to Calgary at age six, will be going toe-to-toe with several other 2010 hopefuls at the $50,000 Burton Canadian Open halfpipe and slopestyle competition, which starts today at Canada Olympic Park (10 a.m.-3 p.m.).

The 23-year-old is no stranger to testing his mettle against the planet's best boarders, having trained with Canada's national team for several winters. After he won a bronze medal at a World Cup stop in Whistler in 2006, a newspaper story about Wright caught the eye of Bahamian government officials, who contacted the up-and-coming star about riding for his home country.

The paperwork was completed about nine months ago -- capped off by a celebration on a Nassau beach -- and the Bahamian flag has been flying at international snowboarding events ever since. Barring a disaster, Wright will carry that same flag into the opening ceremonies at B.C. Place in Vancouver next February.

"I'm the luckiest snowboarder in the world," he said. "I travel around just like any other snowboarder, following the winter year-round, but now I get to go to the Bahamas every month or so to get a couple days of sun and recharge. And I always come back with a smile on my face."

He's got plenty to smile about these days. While his counterparts from Canada, the U.S. and other halfpipe hotbeds battle to earn spots on their respective Olympic squads, Wright is busy drumming up support for his historic moment.

He's getting lots of backing in the Bahamas, where his father and a large chunk of his family still lives, and has also won scores of fans in Whistler, the mountain community he called home for about a year.

Wright's quest to forge new ground at the upcoming Games -- Bahamas is stamped on the bottom of his snowboard, so fans will know exactly where his loyalties lie as he soars overhead -- has drawn comparisons to the story of the Jamaican bobsled team, which captured the hearts of Calgarians after crashing and carrying their sled across the finish line during a run at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

But the Queen Elizabeth graduate insists his is more than just a feel-good story.

"I'm not just there to show up and put on a show," Wright said.

"I'm there to win."

He'll be making history either way.


Videos

Photos