Let the games begin
12th January 2012
The first Winter Youth Olympic Games is underway. The opening ceremony took place on Friday and competition starts on Saturday. PlanetSKI is reporting on The Games and flew in with part of the British Team.
1,000 of the world’s most talented 15-18 year-old winter athletes are convening in Innsbruck from 14th to 22nd January for the first such event.
The Opening Ceremony for Innsbruck 2012 took place inside the historic Bergisel Stadium, home to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
Team GB’s 24 athletes, led by flagbearer, 16-year-old freestyle skier Katie Summerhayes, marched proudly into the Opening Ceremony.
The Austrian Alpine skiing legend Franz Klammer took part in the lighting of three Olympic Cauldrons, one to mark each occasion that Innsbruck has hosted the Olympic Movement.
Before officially opening the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge addressed the athletes: “For the first time, young people from around the world have come together for the Winter Youth Olympic Games, a global celebration of sport and Olympic values. This evening marks your entry into the Olympic world. With that honour comes a great responsibility. As the next generation of sports men and women, you are now the role models that represent our hopes for the future. You have a chance to be true champions, not only by winning medals, but by conducting yourself like Olympians.”
As well as the athletes there are 750 team officials in the city to take aprt in the first ever Winter YOG. In addition to the sports events it also features the Culture & Education Program for the teenagers.The British Team flag bearer, Katie Summerhayes, competes on Saturday in the ski halfpipe.
She competed at the 2011 FIS World Championships in the USA, where she finished 11th in slopestyle and 14th in halfpipe.
She has also taken part in the X Games and recently won a bronze medal in the Europa Cup.
“I am super happy to be selected to carry the flag for Team GB at the Opening Ceremony, especially as it was voted for by my teammates. It really adds something special to the whole Youth Olympic experience for me. To be the first Team GB flag bearer at the first ever Youth Olympics is a dream come true,” said Katie. “I’m proud to be representing Team GB and proud to be British. I can’t wait to get out there and give it my best shot in the halfpipe on Saturday.”
“I am delighted for Katie that her fellow athletes have voted to give her the honour of carrying the Union Flag on behalf of Team GB in the Opening Ceremony,” said the Team GB Chef de Mission, Sir Clive Woodward.
The ski half-pipe event is a new addition to the Olympic Programme.
It will make its full Olympic debut at the main Games in Sochi in 2014.
She has already tweeted a picture of her bed in the athletes village.
Athletes, coaching staff and members of the British Olympic Association flew into Innsbruck on Friday.
PlanetSKI was on the same plane as them and we wished them well.
“It is great to arrive in Innsbruck to these wintery conditions and it is going to be an excellent Games,” said the BOA Chairman, Colin Moynihan, to PlanetSKI as he collected his bags and made contact with other officials. “I am here for the Opening Cermony and I will be around till Wednesday hopefully.”
We broke the news to him that Katie Summerhayes is tweeting photos of her bed draped in the Union Flag and he laughed.
The Captain of the BA plane also wished the British Team well.
There is a familiar name in the curling squad, Thomas Muirhead, younger brother of Eve, the four-time junior World and current senior European Champion and Team GB Olympian.
Eve will be present in Innsbruck herself after being appointed as an Athlete Role Model for the sport of curling by the International Olympic Committee
The mixed gender curling team will be skipped by Duncan Menzies.
All six of the bobsleigh athletes selected have already gained senior experience competing for Great Britain at Euopa Cup level, while Jazmin Sawyers has previously represented Great Britain at athletics, including winning a medal at the Youth Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
Cross-country skier Scott Dixon is the son of six-time Olympian Mike Dixon, who will perform the role of Team Leader for biathlon, where Team GB will be represented by Calum Irvine.
For news of the team announcement and further details see this earlier PlanetSKI story.
In creating the Youth Olympic Games, the IOC aims to inspire young people around the world to participate in sport and to embrace, embody and express the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect.
The photo belows what Innsbruck looks like at the moment.
For these Games, Innsbruck will see action by athletes from nations as far away as Eritrea, the Cayman Islands, Nepal and the Philippines. 70 countries are represented from all 5 continents.
PlanetSKI reporter, Katy Dartford, will be reporting from The Games next week.
As well as her reports you can checkout news, interviews and loads of more exclusive content from Innsbruck 2012 can be viewed on olympic.org while daily highlights will be available on the dedicated YouTube channel.
For real-time updates and photos of the Games, check out the Twitter, Flickr and Facebook accounts of the IOC Media and Youth Olympic Games:
For more information, visit www.Innsbruck2012.com
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