By now you probably know that Venezuela had a delegation of cross country skiers in the World Ski Championship Lahti 2017. The Bolivarian delegation soon turned to farce as Adrián Solano made a mockery of the event, the sport, and his country, and we followed suit by…siding with an “athlete” who’d never once practiced. 

In what amounts to a 2.0 version of “el rancho se lleva en la mente,” Venezuelans could not wait to give Solano an A for effort after embarrassing himself so much his antics went irremediably viral.

On his social media, there are no pictures of him doing any kind of sports. Not skiing, not even chapita.

Yet, some did ask questions. Melanio Escobar, journalist and Human Rights activist, did some digging into the question everybody in the sports community is asking: where the hell did this guy Adrián Solano come from and how did he manage to get sponsored?

His findings only prove that this country is nothing but a guiso inside another guiso, a kind of stew matrioshka doll far more damaging than any YouTube video.

“Well, it is a sad story, but one that doesn’t really add up,” said Melanio after spending the better part of the last couple of days trying to make sense of Solano’s background.

If you check his social media accounts, you’ll see pictures about pretty much anything. A barbecue at his house, him drinking some Nuvo, in activities sponsored by the youth branch of PSUV, even in the group Somos, apparently working for LGBT rights. But there are no pictures of him doing any kind of sports. Not skiing, not even chapita.

 

As well cozying up to social rights movements and the PSUV Youth, several pictures show Solano in full military attire, firmly holding a rifle in his hands, as well as with chavistas’ favorite lookalike, el Ché Guevara venezolano.

“How do you go from being in the PSUV Youth and the Army, to competing in an international skiing event? It’s all very weird”, adds Escobar.

Then there’s the obvious question. How did he pay for his trip and expenses, when Venezuela has no official Winter Sports Federation, and therefore no regular way to access public sponsorship, something other Olympic disciplines do have?

Ski Alliance only follows six people, of which one is the current mayor of Cumaná and another is César Baena. You can imagine por dónde vienen los tiros.

It turns out, Adrián Solano is part of Ski Alliance, a team with no presence on the web, as Melanio found out after a short Google search. “What quickly caught my eye was how, aside from being mentioned by skier César Baena, Ski Alliance had no other hits on Google.

This was the tip of an iceberg that bears exploring further.Ski Alliance does have a Twitter account, but one with barely any activity or followers: just two, as a matter of fact. Looking into who they follow led to some curious findings.

“Ski Alliance only follows six people, of which one is the current mayor of Cumaná and another is César Baena. You can imagine por dónde vienen los tiros”, says Escobar.

To recap: A company with three Twitter followers, which follows all of six people, one of whom is a Chavista Mayor…Thats who sponsors three Venezuelan skiers.

And even after what seems to be yet another sketchball corruption scam surrounding Venezuelan sports, something anything but rare, people still stood up for Adrián Solano.

This isn’t about bashing people for having an opinion or even some guy who is clearly hiding something. It’s about being coherent and careful of not jumping to defend everything Venezuelan. We’re a patriotic bunch no doubt, but vouching for even our bad things isn’t going to make them better or accepted, it only sinks us deeper into mediocrity.

“It’s funny how much impact Cool Runnings and leftist rhetoric have had. (People buy into) the David versus Goliath narrative without bothering to research much. A lot of people came out in his defense, because pobrecito,” says Melanio.

And that’s the problem here.

Blind patriotism is what got us all in this mess of a country to begin with. The promise of a new Venezuela sold in 1998 has brought us there, to uncharted territory. But uncharted for all the wrong reasons. Critical thinking seems to have left along with the diaspora, and in its place came a crímen pasional waiting to happen.

It’s impossible to defend Solano’s blunt failure, the muddy waters behind his trip to Finland, skier César Baena’s alleged skiing team, and the mysterious origin of their resources. All it took to literally shift the conversation over towards patriotism was our own stupid selves.

Being picky when your country’s image is on the line is important. This isn’t sports, it’s no ser tan huevón.

61 COMMENTS

  1. Imagine fleecing your state and local government for years telling them they’re sponsoring a skiing team and then one day your sponsors say, “so, we’re looking forward to seeing you in Finland.” Imagine being pissed that you have to go through with the whole charade when you thought you were just going to sit back and collect the money and nobody would really ask you to follow through. Imagine walking into an athletic store in Helsinki, not even knowing what to ask the clerk to help you with.

  2. One has to be impossibly innocent to defend this poor buffoonery. As it they weren’t humiliating the country enough with all the corruption now they also make worldwide charades with that money…

    For less than this people is even hanged in some countries (not that I support that but just saying)…

  3. He represents the new values of the fatherland. El hombre nuevo. Incompetent, corrupt, public money parasite, no shame and no fear of being ridicolous.

  4. Remember Antonio Pardo? After making a killing in Cadivi for some time, Pardo managed to represent Venezuela at the 2014 winter Olympic games (also a good source for Cadivi USD). The problem was, like this guy Solano, Pardo could not ski at all.

    • Venezuelas history with winter sports is a microcosm within the corruption in sports in general. A minister (Alejandra Benitez) was fired for investigating why 30 million dollars meant for Olympic preparations ended up in person Al bank accounts in Bulgaria. I mean, it’s that in-your-face you’d swear this was about El Aissami and his brand of politics.

  5. Also, check out his GoFundMe, lots of Russian donations, I’m guessing the Russian government is doing some sort of underdog propaganda as well

    • Proof Venezuela is doomed to continue under chavismo/marxism. El Pueblo cheers the falling Solano, Pardo, et al and at the same time El Pueblo mourns their own hunger and disease, yet all are the result of the same public policies.

  6. What’s been bugging me, as Carina said, is the fact that his GoFundMe campaign got any traction at all. It’s fishy as hell.
    Over the years I’ve seen crowdfunding campaigns for everything from videogame development to emergency surgery go nowhere (God knows how many hours I’ve wasted just reloading Kickended), and suddenly this unknown guy no-one even knew skiied gets thousands in international monetary support.
    But who knows, maybe his “coach” just had some damn good connections in snow-less ski philanthropy circles.

      • Yeah, I admit it is entirely possible the story went just viral enough to not get noticed on this side of the world, especially:
        a. As Esa helpfully pointed out, the campaign was started by a Finnish personality, I didn’t remember that part.
        b. Promoting a crowdfunding campaign to 2017 Venezuelans would be as effective as showing up to a skiing competition having never come in contact with snow in your life. huh.

        Also, thanks for the reply! 🙂

  7. Give el probecito a break, he actually performed better on a world stage without practice than Nickie or Delcy have with years of experience. Just a different kind of embarrassing, but none of them know the meaning of the word.

  8. Welp… I am completely against everything that happened, but now that it has… this guy is a ‘pobre diablo’ no future, no education, nothing… I think we can honestly say, he didn’t know any better.

  9. According to this, um, “skier”‘s own account, he had to begin the GoFundMe campaign because the government CUT his sponsoring right after the event, leaving him stranded in Finland.

    • I thought the GoFundMe was started by Aleksi Valavuori to get Adrian to Finland after he was flown back to VE from France. According to Valavuori’s twitter feed, most donations came from Finns. I haven’t checked myself but wouldn’t be surprised, as people outside of VE don’t tend to know a hell of a lot about the huge complexities of cases like Solano’s, so the assumption would be that his claims are all valid, claims against are all suspicious because of the local media espousing them, and determination and whatever else deserve recognition and praise because they are positive values to have (regardless of the circumstances which they cannot verify). Valavuori in any case wrote an article to that effect here: https://www.hikipanta.com/blogi/viisi-paivaa-adrian-solanon-tarina/

      Meanwhile, Solano now has a handy dandy website in which he sells “Adrian Solano” branded winter hats, and each hat sold is a donation for Finnish junior skiers! He’s a humanitarian as well as an international laughing stock.
      Such pride in my heart right now.

  10. It is very representative of the national mood, that irresponsible voluntarism. This guy and the pilot of Lamia are two perfect representatives of the same phenomenon: the individual voluntarism that the corrupt system allows to carry to the suicidal limit. It is an adolescent personality who believes himself is outside in the margins of fatality. Chávez was very much that too. And maybe even Leopoldo …

  11. I’m from Finland and Adrian Solano is a big thing in finnish media at the moment. There is lot of wrong information in this article. Finnish people paid Solanos trip to Finland after tv-person Aleksi Valavuori organised the GoFundMe-thing. Solanos first attempt to reach Finland was failed when he was sent back to home from Paris, France. Valavuori read about this and organised people to collect money for Solano. I dont know who paid Solanos first trip to Europe when he was sent back home from Paris.

    • Hi Esa.
      He never came back, as far as we know. He was denied permission to keep traveling but via the Venezuelan consulate in Paris managed to not be deported, staying at a hotel for several days. I don’t know how strong your Spanish is but if you’d like, give ElEstimulo’s article a read. There you get a more in depth description of Solano’s travels, including what you’re pointing out.
      However, our aim here isn’t to explain that part of the story. More as, how did a non-athlete end up participating in a professional event? Why didn’t he have any proper credentials for the tournament, a visa or even enough money to no starve (he held 28€ at the time he arrived at Europe)? Where did he come from? And, of course, the reaction of many surrounding Solano, which in my opinion is as good as standing up to defend what is clearly a scam of sorts. Solano was most likely used, one way or another by Ski Alliance, his alleged team.
      It’s the sort of story that just doesn’t add up.

      • On a far stretch of “Optimism Without Borders”, Solano could be viewed as one individual making a political statement of sorts to draw attention to Venezuela, a country which also cannot “ski” (is untrained in democracy, economics, and politics).

    • As a matter of fact, he did. That’s correct. However, that doesn’t answer many of the questions surrounding the whole ordeal. There’s still no real explanation on why he was chosen to join Ski Alliance, how did he afford to fly to France in the first place, why he had no visa, no forwarding address in Finland, no perdiem, and most important of all, no real background in sports.

      As I said previously, this is a very strange situation.

      Thanks for commenting Esa!

      • So, what’s really behind his trip?? Corruption, political reasons, narcotics, state terrorism??? Who is him meeting with there, who is him talking to, who’s message is delivering??? So many question, so many theories; time will tell.

    • Esa,

      First, I would like to offer a special greeting. I lived for a year and half in Helsinki. Your country is very beautiful.

      As for Adrian Solano, I would imagine that he became a big human interest story in Finland. The Finns love a good underdog story, since it is reminds you of the story of Finland itself. Unfortunately, there is more to this story than just a young man with big dreams. I am sorry that such a promising and positive story could be sullied by corruption, but truth is truth.

  12. Jim Luers is involved for sure ..
    If Adrian is any good with that gun he could try the biathlon …
    A lot lot of Venezuelans should be good at the skeleton pretty soon.

  13. Danni Moe, wonderful entertaining/illuminating article, illustrating the matrioshka of guisos that is Venezuela (kudos!), combined with Carmenbeat’s wonderful Venezuelan “adolescent personality who believes himself outside the margins of fatality” (Chavez/even Leopoldo/et. al.) (also, kudos!). Actually, Adrian Solano is a metaphor for what is Chavista Venezuela today. He is actually a much cheaper version of Formula 1 driver Maldonado, whose patrocinio has cost PDVSA/Venezuela hundreds of millions of dollars, and who even crashed his race car one or two times during a Los Proceres driving exhibition in Caracas….

  14. El no representa ni siquiera indignamente a Venezuela, el solo representa a este devaluado gobierno. Si pensaba que yendo a hacer el ridiculo a esta competencia recibiría algun mérito por su “esfuerzo” estaba bien pelado! Se puso en ridículo el, a su supuesto “entrenador” y por ende al montón de enchufados y cabezas huecas que aplauden a ese pseudo atleta. Dan pena ajena.

  15. The worst thing is that the guy defends himself saying he had only one month to practice but he had to spend that month in France in jail or something. So, he expected to train for a month and beat all those skiers that had been practicing their whole life. Also, he is supposed to be a “paviment skier”, however you can tell by looking at the videos that he doesn’t even know how to keep balance. What a joke of human being.

  16. Really weird story.
    I am left with more questions than answers.
    What is the point of sending a delegation of poor performers when the country is in bankruptcy under an humanitarian crisis?
    How this really happened, who is responsible for all this?
    Where the money came from for the rest of the other Venezuelan delegation?

  17. People have tried to solve this story in Finland I think what happened was this:

    Solano is a “good friend” of Baena and Baena wanted him to join the team and have a nice trip to Finland. I think Solano was not going to ski at all at the first place. He was just a hang-around menber of the team. Then Solanos trip was stopped at the Paris airport and Baena gave an interview to swedish newspaper about the case. Finnish newspaper told the same story and finnish television celebrity Aleksi Valavuori read the story and organised GoFund money collecting thing.

    Valavuoris GoFund-project got lot of media attention in Finland and finnish people funded money. Like I said, it probably wasnt meant that Solano will ski in Finland, but people didnt know that and gave their money to this “skier”. Finnish people paid Solanos new trip to Finland so he was “forced to ski”. No one wants to give money for just a friend of some real skier (Baena) to his tourist trip.

    So then Solano skied. I think The story wouldnt got any media attention outside Finland if Solano wasnt so bad skier. I mean no one in Finland had ever seen such a bad skier. Videos of his skiing went viral and many international medias covered the story. At this point the Venezuelan media also got interested.

    I read that Baena is in charge of this Venezuelan skiing team and he got some sponsor money 1500 dollars a month from state? I’m not sure if that is correct. So I think Baenas idea at first was just to take his friend to Finland for a nice tourist trip but when Valavuori and finnish people funded the money, Solano was forced to ski.

    This whole story is very absurd. One big finnish city (Vantaa) also gave 2000 euros to Solano as a sponsor money when they thought he is a real athletic. Now many people are furious about that 😀

    There are now also Adrian Solano hats sold in Finland and people buy them.

    • I guess the only problem on this case is that who paid Solanos first trip (which ended in Paris) ? And if he would not been sent back home, how he could stay in Finland without money? So hows gonna pay everything, hotels, eatings?

      If Baena used some of the sponsor money (1500 dollars a month from Venezuelan state or Olympic Comitee?) to pay his friends journey to Finland, thats the problem.

      • Esa, thanks for your reply! Now everything makes sense. I am sorry that now all Venezuelans are gonna be seen as crooks.

        You made me laugh when you said
        “I mean, nobody in Finland have ever seen such a bad skier”.

        And now they sell Adrian Solano hats in Finland!

        Esa, I need to buy one. Would you sell it and send it to me? Please please please

  18. And in Finland this story is just as much about Valavuori than Solano.

    Few months ago Valavuori worked as a general manager of Finnish basketball team but he was fired after some homophobic comments on Twitter (which were just meant to be a joke).

    He needed something to do and to gain publicity again so he thought it would be a good thing for him to get this Venezuelan skier to Finland. People funded money and I think Valavuori was also very suprised when it was clear that Solano cant ski at all.

    GoFund-thing got over 4000 euros and there were also some sponsors so Solanos trip collected over 10 000 euros money. Solano and Valavuori gave 1000 euros for two top Finnish skiers each as a sponsor money because Solanos GoFund-project collected more than Solano needed to pay the trip.

    Now people in Finland are asking where are the rest of the money? 4000 euros for Solanos flying tickets and hotel, 2000 euros for Finnish skiers. 4000 euros are still somewhere. Its not so big amount of money in Finland but Valavuori is not very popular person among Finns so people want answers. Some People think Valavuori got rest of the money for his own pocket because he doesnt have much money now because he got fired from his job.

    • Amazing how the corrosive effect of Venezuelan corruption is so powerful that it is infecting places as far away (both geographically and culturally) as Finland.

      • What I find amazing is how corruption gravitates towards corruption, across borders and languages, in unlikely friendships… :/

  19. When in doubt about any strange event in Venezuela, look no further: it’s always very simple: Corruption, guiso, segunda, favorcito, tigre, chanchullo, izquierdazo..

  20. It really pisses me off when enchufados get away with this when there are some true athletes in Venezuela that cannot further their careers for lack of funds!!!!
    My son has held the national champion title for three years running in windsurfing (pro slalom catagory) and has seen his dreams of a world title go down the drain for lack of divisas. For more than 4 years he has been repeatedely rejected his requests for dollars from CADIVI for travel to international competitions and equipment costs. His family has done everything economically possible to help him.
    He has now left Venezuela and is working in the U.S. trying to further his dream of competing on World Cup level.
    Meanwhile millions are spent by the government on Formula 1 and ridiculous ski teams from a country with no snow!!!!

  21. A couple of comments in the facebook page got my attention due to the sheer amount of #TropicalMierda and #RanchoEnLaCabeza content:

    “Call it a pretty classist caption. This isn’t a big deal and has nothing to do with a “slum mentality””

    “Probably the article was written by someone that has never in their life stepped into a “rancho”. This is the anti-poor attitude that, unfortunately, characterises and permeates the “progressive” middle class in Venezuela. It’s embarrassing and disgusting. Besides being classist, which is already a reason to reject the use of the expression; it’s factually inaccurate. Studies by Luís Pedro España on poverty in Venezuela show that the alleged attitudinal underpinnings of poverty (that he calls “pre-modern”) are present in pretty much all socio-economic strata of the Venezuelan society.”

    Those comments reminded me a lot of that bernilieber racist guy that kept defending chavismo, Castro and those stuff in some recent articles.

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