Can you name this Olympic skier and his snowless country?

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Finally today, we want to introduce you to one of the skiers who's making a small splash at the Winter Olympics. He is the first ever Olympic skier representing East Timor, the small island nation in Asia. But do you know what East Timor is officially called at the Olympics? That's our flash geo quiz for you today. Yohan Goncalves Goutt is in his room at the Olympic Village in Sochi. What is your country called at the Olympics? Officially, what's the name?

Goncalves Goutt: It's called Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

Werman: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. So, Timor-Leste, is that East Timor in Portuguese?

Goncalves Goutt: Yes. Actually now the government in Timor wants everybody to call it Timor-Leste.

Werman: You're the sole representative from Timor-Leste. How's the skiing back in Timor-Leste?

Goncalves Goutt: It never really snowed in Timor-Leste, so there's no skiing in Timor. Basically I never saw the snow there.

Werman: I heard that there's no word for skiing in Timor-Leste.

Goncalves Goutt: Yes, the word doesn't exist. They call it "snow skating" or [Speaking {Portuguese}].

Werman: How did you get into the sport in the first place?

Goncalves Goutt: I often say that my mom gave me the heritage, the spirit and the blood and my dad gave me this very French thing, that in Winter we go skiing.

Werman: Your dad is French and your mother is Timorese?

Goncalves Goutt: Yes. I basically combine both.

Werman: Have you ever met anybody else in East Timor who skis?

Goncalves Goutt: My brother skis as well.

Werman: You must know the "Cool Runnings" story, the Jamaican bobsled team's unlikely tale of their sport. Do you ever worry that you're being seen also as kind of an oddity, like the "Timor-Leste skier"?

Goncalves Goutt: I actually get a lot of really, really strong messages from my brothers and sisters, my people in Timor. Really powerful and strong messages. They tell me that they don't really understand what I'm doing but as long as I'm bringing the flag to the world, they will always be here. They gave me a title in Timor: Ambassador of the youth in sport in Timor.

Werman: Do you feel like an Ambassador?

Goncalves Goutt: I think every athlete at the Winter Olympics is one and yeah, I really believe that this was one of my main jobs here, to show to the world this little country that nobody knows and nobody can put on a map. Yes, I really believe that I'm a skier and as well, maybe, an Ambassador for Timor.

Werman: Other unlikely places at the Olympics, like Jamaica, have not seen the same sort of civil strife as East Timor. More than 100,000 people died in fighting there in the '80's and '90's. I'm just wondering how all of this weighs on you as an athlete representing not just a country but these people and what they've been through.

Goncalves Goutt: Yes. Basically my mom escaped just as the war started but a lot of my family stayed. I have a lot of family members that died during that war and my grandmother stayed as a resistance fighter and a few of my uncles stayed in the bush to fight. So in a way, my mother's side of the family is really attached to this country and it's important to not forget but it's good to go forward, one step forward and not stay on the past and the sadness.

I think sports is a really good thing to make it bigger to the world. If you don't know the country, just go open the map and have a look where it is or type the name of Timor-Leste on google and just read the story of this country. I really hope that my job will make Timor bigger.

Werman: So far, how are you doing? What's your favorite moment so far at the Olympics?

Goncalves Goutt: Of course the Opening Ceremony was really big for me, just catching that moment for it to stay all my life in my head. Of course the joy of being with other athletes that had the same dream as me. The skiing is wonderful and skiing next to the greatest, it's really, really awesome as well.

Werman: We always close our show down with a little music, Yohan. Is there a song that you have in your head while you're coming down the slopes?

Goncalves Goutt: This morning I was listening to this new rap group in Timor.

Werman: Olympic skier Yohan Goncalves Goutt representing:

Goncalves Goutt: Timor-Leste.

Werman: Timor-Leste, the answer to our geo quiz today. Great to meet you.

Goncalves Goutt: Thank you very much.

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