The Trump family has been known to tell a tall tale or two during their time in the business world and in politics. Ahead of the 2021 Olympics in Japan, an old story had reemerged online, this one about Ivana Trump, the former wife of Donald Trump.
According to numerous articles, and Donald Trump’s own book “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” in 1972 Ivana Trump was “an alternate on the Czechoslovakian ski team at the Sapporo Winter Olympics” in Japan.
An alternate is a member of the Olympic team who participates only if another team member gets sick or injured. As a possible alternate, she would not actually put on skis and compete unless called upon to do so.
Looking into it, we found no official confirmation from the Czech Olympic Committee that she was a part of the team. We reached out to both the International Olympic Committee and the Czech Olympic Committee.
In 1989, Spy—an irreverent magazine that The New York Times called “a Mad magazine for grown-ups” that was “journalism, not pure satire”—looked into her Olympics story. In its heyday, the magazine was particularly reviled by Donald Trump.
In the cover story titled, “Ivanarama! An Investigative Tribute to the Most Superspecial Trump of all,” the author described how Donald Trump kept referring to his then-wife as a former Olympic skier. The magazine reached out to Petr Pomezny, the secretary general of the Czech Olympic Committee at the time. Pomezny in an irritated voice said, “Who is this Ivana woman, and why do people keep calling us about her? We have searched so many times and have consulted many, many people, and there is no such girl in our records.”
The report appeared to ask for confirmation using various names Ivana may have been known by: "But this just didn't make sense! No Ivana Winklmayr? No. Ivana Zelnicek? No. Ivana Syrovatka? No—but now we are getting ahead of ourselves." The latter last name referred to George Syrovatka, a former flame of Ivana Trump who was also a professional skier. Later in the article, the author investigated whether she had been married to Syrovatka, and also found no evidence.
The report mockingly describes how after the Olympics, she graduated from Charles University with a master’s degree “in the very demanding subject of physical education [...] And so her career as a top Olympic skier drew to a close.”
Sasha Cantet, a research coordinator for The Olympic Studies Center, responded to our query by directing us to the Spy magazine article and added the following information:
At the 1972 Winter [Olympics], there was no women athlete who competed for Czechoslovakia in the alpine skiing events. Unfortunately we are not able to confirm or not if Ivana Trump was or wasn’t an alternate for this edition as we do not have the media guide from the Czechoslovakian National Olympic Committee (NOC) in our collection for this edition of the Games.
Given that we have no confirmation about the veracity of the Trump family’s claims regarding the Olympic credentials of Ivana Trump, and we have only one statement from a Czech official in 1989, we rate this as “Unproven.”