You’ve Been a Bad, Bad Hoya: Sochi Edition
Jamaica may have a bobsled team, but its Caribbean neighbor Dominica fielded not one, but two cross-country ski competitors in the Sochi Olympic Games, which concluded a few short days ago.
Dominica, a tiny island nation of around 72,000 people, doesn’t really have any native skiers, or even snow to ski on. What Dominica does have, however, is a path to citizenship, and, by extension, the Olympics, for the low, low price of $178,530.
That was the path taken–or, so says Deadspin’s Dave McKenna–by one Gary di Silvestri (COL ’89), a New York native, and his Italian-born wife, Angelica Morrone di Silvestri.
Having made “a financial contribution to the country that went to different projects” after a visit to Dominica “years ago” (di Silvestri’s own words), the couple became dual citizens. Around 2012 – though the exact details are hazy –, the di Silvestris created the Dominica Ski Federation, and subsequently began to hop the globe, from one cross-country skiing event to another, in an attempt to qualify for Sochi in 2014.
Mr. di Silvestri is 46; Mrs. di Silvestri is 48. Most of their competitors were half their age, and yet, the pair survived their respective qualifiers (despite, as NBC OlympicTalk reports, finishing sometimes in 78th place).
And so off to Sochi then went, heralded by a media feeding frenzy. TIME and The New York Times happily covered their against-the-odds appearance in the games, which Mr. di Silvestri himself described as “different, definitely different.”
When the time came to compete, the couple’s performance was different, definitely different. Mrs. di Silvestri sustained a head injury during practice in Sochi, ultimately leading to three separate surgeries. She did not compete. Mr. di Silvestri had fared better: he skied almost three hundred meters in the Men’s 15K race, but ultimately dropped out before reaching the first checkpoint, citing illness. Vox is actually inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt here, what with Sochi’s brown water and all.
All in all, the Dominica ski team proved a disappointment in Sochi. But the tale of the di Silvestris, bizarre as it already is, is far from over.
Mr. di Silvestri’s Olympic profile listed him as a “two-time state wrestling champion” and a member of a “national championship [rowing] team at Georgetown.” Deadspin, upon analysis, revealed that neither claim is remotely true. There aren’t any records of di Silvestri winning a New York State wrestling title, and, according to Georgetown then-coach of the men’s crew team, Whit Fosburgh, he “wasn’t in the [Georgetown] boats that medaled.” Awkward.
Mrs. di Silvestri, it turns out, is more intimately acquainted with Olympic skiing than anyone thought. As a high-level employee FIAT, she was embroiled in a 1997-1998 scandal in which a boc of Italian interest groups attempted to secure hosting rights for several international winter sports games by means of bribes. In one particularly juicy incident, she allegedly offered two brand new FIATs to Howard Peterson, a member of the International Olympic Committee.
As if that’s not enough, though, the couple was also implicated in a 2006 tax evasion scheme in the Turks and Caicos. So, there’s that. Judge as you will, dear readers.