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.

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