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Chelsea skier first Haitian to compete at University Games

January 13th,2023 | Sports

Chelsea skier Theo Mallett is set to make Haitian history this weekend in Lake Placid.

The Chelsea Nordiq cross-country star will be the first athlete to ever represent Haiti in the International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Games. He said he’s excited to not only represent his home country for the first time, but also to represent black athletes on the world stage.

“It means a lot to me. I get to represent a country that is struggling and that has been struggling for a while,” Theo told the Low Down just days ahead of his trip to Lake Placid, where he will be the sole flag bearer for Haiti when he marches in the opening ceremonies Jan. 12. He will be joined by his father Dan, who will also serve as his manager, coach and wax technician.

“And I will also be representing a minority in skiing, so it’s going to be a good experience,” he added.

Theo was adopted at the age of two by Chelsea parents, Dan Mallett and Diane Lemire, who said the young boy could hardly walk because he was so malnourished as a child. But it didn’t take them long to get their boy on skis, and Theo would soon become a household name at local loppets, races and ski festivals in the Gatineau Hills. Theo said he remembers being pulled in a sled as a toddler, where he would take mini naps only to wake up and ski through Gatineau Park until he was too tuckered out and needed another rest.

“My parents put me on skis that winter,” added Theo, who joined the Chelsea Nordiq as a young skier and said he hasn’t really looked back.

“He is very physically strong and very determined,” said Lemire. “And he just loves to train. When he was little, he would win quite a bit of races, and he has also learned a lot about putting together a training plan and strategies to deal with the stress and anxiety of competing.”

Theo qualified for the competition through his International Ski Federation (FIS) season points, but it wasn’t until watching the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing that he truly became inspired when Haitian downhill skier Richardson Viano made history as Haiti’s first-ever winter Olympian. He finished 34th in the men’s slalom.

After watching that, Theo said he decided to compete for his home country of Haiti.

“We saw [Viano] and I thought it was really cool,” said Theo. “Seeing that downhill skier from Haiti really inspired me to go for it.”

He’ll go for it this weekend in Lake Placid, where he will compete in an 11-day competition that will feature close to 1,500 of the world’s top collegiate athletes from 46 countries. The Lake Placid competition begins a four-year plan to prepare Theo for the 2026 Olympic Games in Milan and Cortina, Italy. Theo will also be one of just two Haitian skiers at February’s FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Planica, Slovenia.

Dan and Diane said they are thrilled to see their son succeed and can’t wait to see him compete against the best in the world — some of whom are his skiing heroes.

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