As a four-time Olympic medallist, US ice hockey legend Angela Ruggiero knows a thing or two about competing at the highest level and, as an Athlete Role Model at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games, Innsbruck 2012, she was happy to share this experience with the young competitors.
Since the Games, she has been announced as the head of the International Olympic Committee group overseeing the planning for the second Winter YOG, Lillehammer 2016, where she plans to put her learnings from Innsbruck into practice.
“I am really excited about Lillehammer,” Angela said. “We can learn a lot from the outstanding job Innsbruck did hosting the first ever Winter YOG. The city itself was absolutely beautiful, and the competition and venues were top notch.”
While Angela was in Innsbruck to inspire and help guide the athletes, she says the relationship worked both ways.
“I was inspired watching the athletes’ fierce competitive spirit, but grace off the field of play. This was displayed with the various mixed gender or mixed NOC sports. It reminded me of Pierre de Coubertin's quote: ‘The important thing in life is not the triumph, but to compete’.”
Away from the sports competition, Angela says the Culture and Education Sessions she shared with the athletes were just as memorable: “I loved speaking with the athletes and hearing how the YOG was such a positive experience that they were going to go home and train even harder to make the Olympic Games. I learned a lot from them during these interactive sessions when I was an Athlete Role Model.”
But besides the lasting memories, friendships and moments, there is one souvenir that Angela cherishes: “My photo with Yoggl!”