When Maude Davis Crossland and her family moved from the USA to Colombia nearly a decade ago, initially thinking it would be for two years, she never imagined she would become the South American nation's first female Winter Youth Olympian.
But on Sunday the 16-year-old bobsledder did just that, when she came 15th in the women’s monobob at St. Moritz's famous Olympia Bob Run.
“It is amazing and nerve-wrecking at the same time, as I want to represent Colombia in the best way I can,” said Crossland, who chose her adopted nation over her country of birth. “To compete for Colombia brings me back to living there. I love it.”
Crossland, who was born in Seattle, moved to Colombia with her family aged seven as her parents “wanted a new experience”.
“It was originally going to be for two years, but we loved it so much that we eventually stayed in Bogota for seven years,” she said.
Despite having fallen in love with the country, the Crossland family moved back to the United States, where one of her school coaches introduced her to bobsleigh.
Sebastian Uprimny, a Colombian cross-country skier who competed in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, helped her train in Park City, Utah.
In what is her first full season in bobsleigh, Crossland qualified for the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games. She arrived in St. Moritz knowing she would not contend for medals but determined to embrace the entire experience.
“I missed out on some of the first training days, because I arrived later. I had to catch up on school before going away for two weeks,” she said. “I love to race here. It is my favourite track by far.”
Crossland is popular among fellow YOG athletes hunting for Olympic pins. She and speed skater Diego Amaya Martinez, who won silver in the men’s mass start event last Thursday, are the only athletes representing Colombia at the Games.
“Nobody [in the Youth Olympic Village] had Colombia’s pin yet when I arrived to St. Moritz,” Crossland said. “They would see my jacket and ask me for pins. So I have also been getting a lot of cool pins.”
Crossland hopes to compete at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, having been inspired by Amaya Martinez’s achievement in becoming Colombia’s first medallist at any Olympic Winter Games.
“It was amazing to see Diego at the medal ceremony,” she said. “It inspires me to keep going and to continue competing for Colombia. I want to get better and better and hopefully compete at Beijing 2022. That would be really special.”