By Mark Carpenter –
The 2018 Winter Olympics are going full bore currently in South Korea, and one of the athletes will be performing this weekend has an Adams County connection, through a couple in Seaman who hosted a foreign exchange student in the early 1990’s.
Bill and Nancy Shelby of Seaman hosted an exchange student from Sweden for the 1990-91 school year- a young lady named Nina Oystila. Along with many others, the Shelbys will be watching this weekend’s Olympic competition with great interest, as the young lady they hosted nearly 30 years ago now has a son competing for the Swedish Olympic Team, Oliwer Magnusson, who competes in an event called Men’s Ski Slopestyle.
“The Defender actually did a couple of articles on Nina while she was here,” said Mrs. Shelby. “She had never played basketball before but while she was here, she played for North Adams and I remember them putting her in the game one night and she finally made her first basket ever, which was a big deal then.”
That moment was described in the Feb. 6, 1991 Defender by Greg Stout: “One of the last players to enter the game for North Adams was a girl that appeared older than her counterparts, was athletic and ran the floor well, but appeared hesitant on the offensive end. What was interesting was that each time this girl touched the basketball, the North Adams crowd literally buzzed with excitement.
After a couple of missed shots by this young lady, which elicited a loud verbal disappointment from the crowd, she finally had one drop through in the final seconds of the game. The North Adams crowd went nuts. Nina Oystila, a foreign exchange student from Umea, Sweden, had scored her first two points in a high school basketball game. Nina is an 18-year old senior and ‘straight A’ student, who prior to moving to Seaman to live with her host parents, had never played organized basketball. Nina exhibits a zest for life and was a refreshing interview.”
According to Mrs. Shelby, Oystila stayed with them for the entire school year and went through graduation ceremonies at NAHS.
“Nina is now a school teacher in Sweden and we still keep in touch. I just talked to her a few days ago and her family was pretty excited, but they weren’t able to go to South Korea for the Olympics. Their son had just been to Colorado and to Canada two or three weeks ago for competition and she told me it was real expensive to send him to all these places, so they didn’t feel like they could make the trip to Korea, but they will be nervous watching.”
“Oliwer is only 17 years old, but I have noticed that a lot of young people have been winning at the Olympics.”
Men’s Ski Slopestyle, one of the new X-Game events that are now part of the Winter Olympics, is described as a “ winter sport in which athletes ski or snowboard down a course including a variety of obstacles including rails, jumps and other terrain park features. Points are scored for amplitude, originality and quality of tricks. The discipline has its roots in action sports like skateboarding and BMX and has very successfully crossed over into the snow sports worlds of skiing and snowboard. Twin-tip skis are used and are particularly useful if the skier lands backwards. Slopestyle tricks fall mainly into four categories: spins, grinds, grabs and flips.”
On his official Olympic webpage, the 17-year old Magnusson says, “”My parents took me to the local ski slope and since then I’ve always loved skiing.I found some jumps and rails in Are. From the first time I knew that I loved freeskiing.” As expected, he says that his goal is to become the best skier in the world.
The Men’s Ski Slopestyle competition is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 17 between 8-10 p.m. If you are watching, look for Oliwer Magnusson and think “He has that Adams County connection, his mother was once a Devilish Darling.”