Dedham native Warren “Trace” Cummings Smith is heading to Sochi to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics, but will not be wearing the red, white, and blue.
Instead, he will dress in blue, black, and white, the colors of Estonia, as the 21-year-old dual citizen will be one of two Alpine skiers competing for the northeastern European nation located on the Baltic Sea.
“I began racing as an American; I was born and raised in Boston, and at age 16 I decided to switch the country for which I compete to Estonia,” he said. “My parents thought that it would be a really good way to both provide me opportunity as far as the races I could compete in, but also from a personal perspective, [with] my family having Estonian roots.”
Cummings Smith, who friends and family call “Trace” due to the “III” that accompanies his legal name, was born and raised in Massachusetts and began skiing at a young age.
“I took my first ski lessons at Nashoba Valley when I was 4 years old, and from there I skied recreationally with my father,” Cummings Smith said. “I started ski racing since I was nine years old; by age 14 was really when I made the move towards ski racing as my No. 1 focus athletically.”
“I had citizenship from when I was a young guy,” Trace said. “It was definitely early on, before it was even a question of ski racing; it didn’t come down to that at all.”
Competing for the country of his ancestors has allowed Trace to compete at the highest level early on in his skiing career, but the experience he has received is much greater than just improved race times.
“It’s allowed me to get the opportunity to get really close to other members of the Estonian ski team,” Cummings Smith said. “It’s been really cool to hear those firsthand accounts of the history of the country and what it was like there, especially during the Soviet years, and the skiing has just afforded me that opportunity that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
After seeing Alpine medal winners in their late 20s and early 30s in Winter Games past, it looks like Sochi 2014 is only an early stop on what could be a long and illustrious career for the young skier.
“I see it as a great opportunity both to get in there and achieve my best possible result, but also as a platform off of which I would be able to gain experience from this event,” Cummings Smith said. “I’m hoping that it will be a good place to move forward from and come back in four years time, be a veteran, and have a lot more of a solid platform and more years of training under my belt, so I’ll be ready to be competitive for a medal.”