The Parade of Nations in Sochi featured 88 countries in all, most north of the equator where athletes are no strangers to cold, ice and snow.
However, there are those with less traditional Winter Games origins.
Like the Cayman Islands, represented by Dow Travers. Known as the “Ginger Ninja,” the 26-year-old skier became the island country’s first Winter Olympics athlete in 2010 and returns this year to Sochi.
“I put the “I” in team I think. It’s just me here right now,” Travers said.
The Brown University graduate is not alone as a country’s sole Olympic athlete. There are 18 here in total, including Antonio Pardo of Venezuela, Tucker Murphy of Bermuda and Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines. Many of them are hot climate athletes participating in cold winter games.
Aerialist Josi Santos from Brazil is making her Olympic debut in Sochi at the age of 29 in a snow sport she took up only last year.
“My friends and family have been very supportive and I am privileged to represent my country and am very honored to be in the Olympics,” Santos said.
Every athlete has unique obstacles to overcome.
Shiva Keshavan competes in luge for India and participated in his fifth winter games in Sochi, but he does not have a luge track on which to practice, so he trains part of the year with the U.S. team.
“There is a responsibility on me to give some of my experience and knowledge to develop winter sports,” said Keshavan.
It’s a responsibility more and more athletes are warmly embracing.
“The coach said if you settle down and start getting some more snow miles in, I think you’ll be able to make the Olympics, so it was a hunt for snow at that point,” Travers said.