An Uphill Olympics Quest for Arman Serebrakian

NOVATO, Calif.—Like the Catskills, the road to Sochi is very high and bumpy for Olympic ski aspirant Arman Serebrakian.

But the journey continues, over mountains and valleys, in his quest to represent Armenia this winter.

Arman Serebrakian in his quest to represent Armenia at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Arman Serebrakian in his quest to represent Armenia at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

It’s not about winning the gold medal or any other accolade, though that would be nice. This is the story of a man who would withstand an avalanche just to stand up and be counted among the best alpine skiers in the world with the tricolor in his hand.

In so doing, he would bring homage to his beloved country of Armenia.

The talent he has. The funds to make it possible are another story. But, he’s making inroads.

As a member of the Armenian National Ski Team, Serebrakian just returned from seven weeks in New Zealand and Australia for quality training. In the process, he completed 7 races and saw his world rating jump from 2,568 to currently 753, putting him right on track for a berth before the Jan. 20 deadline.

To qualify, he needs to be at 500 for a guaranteed spot.

“We trained alongside many national teams,” he told me. “I’m now skiing slalom better and more confident than ever.”

Serebrakian took a year’s sabbatical from his medical studies at Temple University, where he’s between his second and third year. He still cracks the books, however, just to maintain his edge in becoming a surgeon.

You’ll find him inside a gym twice a day, increasing his leg strength and gaining the needed weight. It has not been an easy grind for the 27-year-old who was first introduced to the slopes at age 2.

One sacrifice has been the absence of any social life he used to enjoy.

“It’s all necessary in reaching my potential,” said the dual citizen. “Overall, I’m happy with my skiing and my progression is right on track. My goal is to put Armenian skiing on the map.”

Serebrakian and sidekick Arsen Nersisyan are strong candidates for Armenia. Serebrakian’s sister Ani—another talent—will forego any intentions and help her brother instead with fund-raising.

Over the past eight years, Serebrakian has been the top-ranked Armenian alpine ski racer in the world. He’s had four top 10 NCAA finishes while competing for the University of Colorado, where he made the All-Academic Ski Team, served twice as captain and one year as an assistant coach.

The sport tends to be quite costly with elite-level equipment, coaching, on-snow training, lift tickets, travel, lodging, ski tuning supplies, and competition fees. It all adds up.

“I’m closer to reaching my $90,000 goal needed to compete, but it’s been a long road,” he said, pointing to a European trip to the Alps this October. “My training and competition schedule will continue to take me across the globe where the best snow conditions exist. Now I face the challenge of raising my own funds while still paying my way through medical school with student loans.”

The intensified on-snow training in the Alps will cover some of the rugged glaciers as a final tune-up before the winter’s competitive season.

Supporters can help by logging on to his website at or his Facebook page at

Loans, fundraisers, and just about any option necessary will help fuel his budget, including a bar night in San Francisco, or a silent auction and dance in Los Angeles.

The hype has already included “Go Arman” T-shirts and “Armenia Ski Team” scarves. Serebrakian has been on the radar since his collegiate skiing days at the University of San Francisco. He was one of four athletes to represent Armenia in 2010 along with Nersisyan, Sergei Mikaelian, and Kristine Khachatryan.

Given the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s participation in the World Olympics as an independent country, the exposure has added incentive for Serebrakian and his teammates. He will stop at nothing to realize his dream.

Ask him who his role models are and he’ll quickly tell you Joe Almasian and Kenny Topalian, who competed for Armenia in the bobsled during that inaugural year of 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway.

“I’m so focused on reaching this goal, so hungry, that I look at it as something necessary to reach my potential,” he professed. “Ski racing has long been a part of my life, and I intend to bring it to the homes of Armenians everywhere.”

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
Tom Vartabedian

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for posting Arman’s web site, I will repost it in the Fresno Armenians Facebook page. I wish we would have seen this before our 40th anniversary Homemetmem Scouts Dinner Dance last night. We would have very much liked Arman to come as our guest. May I suggest that Arman if he has time visit some of the Armenian Schools on the West Coast to help with the fund raising.

    Thanks again for the web site and we will do what we can here in Fresno and add it to our list of fundraisiers that are important to us. I might also suggest getting sponsorship of Armenian businesses and Corporations.

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