Serebrakian Hoping to Bring Olympic Medal to Armenia

BY JOHN CRUMPACKER
From the Houston Chronicle

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–As it turns out, father does know best, at least when the father is Dr. Armen Serebrakian.

The exercises and drills that the good ear, nose and throat doctor put his son and daughter through as children led, in due time, to daughter Ani making it to the Winter Olympics as a member of Armenia’s four-member team.

“It’s kind of funny,’’ 21-year-old Ani Serebrakian said in an interview with the Chronicle Olympic Bureau. “My classmates said this day was coming.’’

It’s here. Ani marched in Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies at B.C. Place Stadium with her three teammates, the sixth country in a roll call of 82 countries to have their moment in the indoor spotlight.

Serebrakian, a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, will race under the colors of Armenia in the women’s giant slalom on the 24th and the slalom on the 26th at Whistler. Her Armenian parents were born in neighboring Iran and emigrated to the U.S. more than 30 years ago.

Armenia, competing as an independent nation since 1994 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, has never won a Winter Olympic medal.

“I’m kind of still in awe that I’m here,’’ she said. “I’m not surprised, but it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m just really enjoying the whole thing. My whole goal was to make it to the Olympics. Qualifying for it, I feel I’ve achieved so much already. I’m excited to ski with the best in the world and do my best.’’

Like other athletes in Vancouver, and really, anyone involved in the Olympics, Serebrakian was saddened to hear of the death of Georgia luger Nodar Kumaritashvili earlier Friday in a training accident.

“We were so upset and sad when we heard,’’ she said. “It was great that they even came to the ceremonies. We’re going to go over to their team and offer our condolences.’’

After marching into the stadium and taking their seats, Serebrakian said she was so moved by the events of the day that “I sat down and cried.’’

Serebrakian’s two slalom events are considered safe by skiing standards as they require technical skill in negotiating around the gates with proper form and efficiency rather than a healthy dose of courage.

“Slalom is my favorite,’’ she said. “I just really enjoy the whole thing. It’s very quick. You’re hitting the gates. It’s very therapeutic to me. It’s almost like boxing, because you’re hitting the gates as you go down hill. Just like boxing with any kind of aggression or anger, you want to win, so you put it out there.’’

The young woman seen smiling and holding a small Armenian flag in the Opening Ceremonies has been preparing for this moment since she was 2 years old, when her father put her and her brother Armon, now 22, on tyke skis at North Star at Tahoe. Dad had his kids racing when they were 5.

Once she mastered the kids’ hill at North Star, Serebrakian moved on to Squaw Valley, where she continues to train.

“My dad got my brother and I skiing as soon as possible,’’ she said. “He himself was a skier. He’s a very athletic person. One of the things he liked about skiing was it was for the whole family. Eventually he saw we were good enough learning to ski that we started racing at age 5.’’

As kids, Ani and Armon were running up a hill outside their elementary school at their father’s urging and later on going through drills in their middle school gym before the first bell rang.

“They would open it specifically for us so we could use it,’’ she said of the school’s gym. “We’d whine, but we’d go. He’d get us donuts afterward.’’

Serebrakian grew up American in every sense and excelled in school and on the tennis courts. However, a recent visit to the old country kindled in her a sense of what it was to be Armenian.

“The whole idea to go for the Armenian team began two years ago when we visited the country for the first time,’’ she said. “We kind of fell in love with it. That brought us to qualifying for the Olympics and here I am.’’

Serebrakian said her brother, who lives in Boulder, Colo., is also an accomplished skier. He fell short of qualifying for the Armenian team, however, spoiling what would have been a great story of skiing siblings.

“I’m kind of in awe that I’m here,’’ Serebrakian said. “I’m very privileged. Very privileged. I’m really enjoying the whole thing. My whole goal is to make it to the Olympics, qualifying for it. I feel I’ve achieved so much already. I’m excited to ski with the best in the world.’’

For that, she can thank her taskmaster father.

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17 Comments

  1. Hakob Karaoglanian said:

    GOOD LUCK ANI SEREBRAKIAN !!
    AS A YOUNG ATHLETE AND COLLEGE STUDENT MYSELF, YOU ARE A HERO AND INSIRATION!!

  2. Dino Ajemian said:

    So in two short years she gets Armenian citizenship and qualifies for the Olympics? I would love to know this part of the story. Where are our intrepid journalists on this issue? It would be nice if the Minister of Diaspora Relations could let us all know how the 7 million Armenians in the diaspora can participate in sport for Armenia. Since 1992 we have been getting fewer and fewer medals.

    • ed petrosian said:

      well out of those 7 million armenians do they QUALIFY to go to olympics, Dino? i have followed Ani’s skiing for years and even if she doesn’t bring home a medal, she has succeeded in the World rankings. You must qualify only by Olympic rules , not by ANY other way. So tell the rest of the Armenians if they want to participate, they must work hard like Ani has since the age of 5 to be able to even be admitted by Olympic officials. There are no short cuts, or secret ways to wiggle in there.

      • Haig Serebrakian said:

        Dino,
        It is surprising to see with the last name of AJEMIAN you are trying to show suspicion.
        Normally all my Dagkahay friends are all straight to the point, and I love them for it, if you have any suspicion what so ever, cough it out. This is a dedicated young Armenian individual trying with all her hart to ski for Armenia.

        In one hand it is the professional organization of Olympic comity and on the other it is the Government of Armenia. I suggest you educate yourself first, get your facts together before commenting.

        I do not understand what you mean by seven million Armenian individuals in the Diaspora can participate in sports for Armenia? I am one of them and I am not an athlete.

        Please identify yourself as well so I make sure you are an Armenian. My E mail address is haigs@earthlink.net

        • Dino Ajemian said:

          To Ed and Haig:

          1) I am happy for Ani and her representing Armenia at the Olympics.
          2) In no way have I suggested that she did not earn her place.
          3) I want more Armenians to participate for Armenia at the Summer and Winter Olympics.
          4) The process of participation should be transparent and clearly known to all Armenians.
          5) If that were the case more Armenians would participate in sport.

          Now for the fun part:

          To Ed:
          “well out of those 7 million armenians do they QUALIFY to go to olympics, Dino?”
          That’s my point Ed, Armenia thru the ministry of diaspora relations should make it clear as to the process and encourage Armenians throughout the diaspora to participate in sport. And from the rest of what you have written suggests paranoia on your part. Seek help immediately.

          To Haig:
          “It is surprising to see with the last name of AJEMIAN you are trying to show suspicion.”
          Normally I don’t argue with a crazy person, but I will make an exception.
          So, it’s suprising that someone with the name that means Iran would ask innocent questions about someone whose parents are from Ajemistan?
          “Normally all my Dagkahay friends are all straight to the point,”
          Why are you bringing up dajkihyes?
          ” if you have any suspicion what so ever, cough it out. This is a dedicated young Armenian individual trying with all her hart to ski for Armenia.”
          Captain Obvious, she is young, dedicated etc, that’s wonderful. I have no “suspicion” about her. Although I have my suspicions about your paranoia.
          “In one hand it is the professional organization of Olympic comity and on the other it is the Government of Armenia”
          Well duh. What’s the process so that more Armenian youth knows its doable and they can shoot for the Olympics or attend international competitions for Armenia.
          ” I suggest you educate yourself first, get your facts together before commenting.”
          I asked questions you did not like, assuming she did not get to the olympics thru legitimate means. I suggest you go beyond your basic understanding of the english language, understand what is written, do not assume the worst.
          “I do not understand what you mean by seven million Armenian individuals in the Diaspora can participate in sports for Armenia? I am one of them and I am not an athlete.”
          Again, this just proves your outlook peers out of a small window. You do know the process obviously, you really dont care if anybody else does.
          “Please identify yourself as well so I make sure you are an Armenian”
          This is the funniest thing you have said and that’s saying alot from all the other absurd things you and “Ed” have written. How about this Haig, if that’s your real name, why don’t we do genetic testing- mitochondrial and Y chromosome to see who is more Armenian. Are you all there Haig?

          So now you should know what I meant in my original post. From this post I have shown that you and Ed are misguided paraniod idiots. You can make amends by explaining the process. On a bad day I can break the Armenian record in the Decathlon. So tell me Ed or Haig specifically how do I offically participate in Armenian track and field so I can offically break the Armenian record and participate in European track and filed championships for Armenia. Let’s see if you can be more constructive and less destructive.

          I hope Ani does great. As for you and Ed in all of your endeavors, as they say in show biz, for good luck, break a leg.

          • Aleco said:

            Dear Haig, Dino and Ed
            It is the same old story. If others are in peace with us, we make enemies out of ourselves.
            Please try to cut it short and wish GOOD LUCK AND SCCESS FOR ANI AND A GOLD MEDAL FOR ARMENIA:
            Thank you
            regards

          • Haig Serebrakian said:

            Dear Aleco.

            “It is the same old story. If others are in peace with us, we make enemies out of ourselves.”

            No Armenian can be my enemi. This is not a fight this is understanding.

            Take care you have my respect
            Haig

          • Haig Serebrakian said:

            Dino,
            Your Royal Highness,

            I am so happy that in this case you did make an exception to argue with a crazy, paranoid, misguided and Idiot like me. Thank you very much for your generosity.

            I should admit that you coughed but with deception and lie. No guts.

            This is exactly what you wrote.

            “So in two short years she gets Armenian citizenship and qualifies for the Olympics?
            I would love to know this part of the story. Where are our intrepid journalists on this issue? It would be nice if the Minister of Diaspora Relations could let us all know how the 7 million Armenians in the Diaspora can participate in sport for Armenia.”

            You did not question. You did comment.
            You must be a medical doctor, Psychologist and a democrat and other things combined, you know how to twist things and definitely you think Armenians and me all are stupid.
            I can tell you this, I am able to read.

            You say “ On a bad day you can break the Armenian record in the decathlon”
            And how come you cannot participate in Olympics? Are you a crybaby? what else you can do? can you do back flips? Can you break other countries records as well?
            I do not see any records that you are an athlete. Where do you live Turkey?

            Since you asked I tell you what to do.
            Don’t be jealous of others, you want something don’t seat behind your computer and make stupid comments, get out there and fight for it and ask professionals in your field.
            Narcissism is bad for your demeanor. Armenians are not cry babies. We have Guts

            You are throwing all of these insults, and our language is abusive? Unfortunately this is an
            Armenian sight and I respect Armenians and letting your insults go.

            I am praying that I will never see you in person.

            Haig

          • ed petrosian said:

            uh…dino…do you understand what the word PARANOIA means? means “thought process heavily influenced by anxiety or fear:…where in my comment did I sound fearful or have anxiety? hahaha, im sorry but that is a little humorous to me…i gave you information that i know clearly about since you were ASKING. Enough of this nonsense, YOUUUUUU should contact the Minister of Diaspora Relations and ask them yourself if you are that concerned. I understand you are curious to know how other Armenians can qualify, but did you stop and think that maybe this young girl and her family thought the same thing? And yet went after it to see how and what she needed to do to participate? They did not knock on her door and ask her to compete, she educated herself to see how she needed to qualify ( as did every athlete that participates in the Olympics today– or they were lucky enough to have a coach/director to lead them) and took the responsibility and the hard work to get there. Stop raining on Ani and her families parade. It’s very sad to see a fellow Armenian bring up and comment like this. Like Haig said…you want to participate in Olympics, you have to put in the work to get there–aka RESEARCH. I wish you luck and yes, hopefully we DO see you in the Olympics as well.

  3. Jirair Akopian said:

    Best of Luck Ani!
    My whole family will be cheering for You, especially my daughter Ani :-)
    From Boston, MA

  4. Aleco said:

    Hi Ani
    Good luck. 10 years ago when I sow you at your place thought you are going to succeed.
    Wish you all the best and do not worry you will make it. enjoy to be Armenian.
    Armine&Aleco

  5. Haig Serebrakian said:

    Dino Ajemian is this your comment?

    “This opinion peice about the barbarians that run so called turkey is within bounds of qaulity of the Armenian weekly. Only rabid lapdogs of the enemies of the Armenian people would be upset. Nothing out of bounds of decency was said. We must always be aware of what the enemy does and says. They also come to this website and pretend to be Armenians. It’s been documented as to the lengths the barbarians go raise false flag tactics on Armenian opinion sites. I personally know Armenians who actually side with the turks about Armenian national issues. These so called Armenians are self loathing and seek mental solace from trying to be friends with the enemy and pursue political correctness. It’s too bad the ones that spread their propaganda dont put their real names to their turkish inspired sophistry. It’s funny how those who dont agree with nationalist oppinions utilize irrrelevant, childish and back handed insults to obfuscate so as to prevent real debate.”

  6. Haig Serebrakian said:

    Dino Ajemian. Is this your comment?

    “we must come to the understanding that there will be two Armenians, one whose culture is protected and population living decent, healthy lives and Yerevan a cesspool of Persians, Turks, Russians and their Armenian speaking lap dogs.”

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