Visitors to the Olympic Museum got more bang for their buck (literally and figuratively) on Wednesday.
The bang: the unveiling of French freestyle skier Kevin Rolland as the latest Youth Olympic Games Ambassador for the 2012 Innsbruck Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The buck: Innsbruck 2012 mascot Yoggl, who is rapidly becoming the most recognisable Alpine chamois in the pantheon of recognisable Alpine chamois.
Surprised Museum-goers turned their attention and cameras to a media frenzy taking place in the Winter Sports exhibition area of the Museum, where Rolland was being introduced by IOC President Jacques Rogge, who was accompanied by Olympic figure skating champion and YOG Ambassador Yuna Kim.
“I’m proud to become a Youth Olympic Games Ambassador,” Kevin told the crowd. “I am 22 years old, and, like Yuna, we are very close in age to the next generation of athletes (who will participate at Innsbruck 2012). I will do my best to give them good advice to help them with their careers.”
Rolland, a FIS Freestyle World Ski champion, is aiming to make his mark at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, which will feature halfpipe skiing for the first time on the Olympic programme following its debut at Innsbruck 2012, which will run from 12 to 23 January 2012.
Kevin joins a stellar line-up of YOG Ambassadors that also includes Olympic gold medalists Lindsey Vonn (Alpine skiing) and Benjamin Raich (Alpine skiing). “You cannot dream of a better team of ambassadors,” President Rogge said of the fab four.
The role of the Youth Olympic Games Ambassadors is to inspire and mentor the athletes competing in Innsbruck, while encouraging young people around the world to become more active in sport.
“Ever since I started competing at a young age, my goal was to win a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympic Games,” said Yuna, who flew in from South Korea the night before just to take part in Rolland’s unveiling. “And now I’ve achieved that goal – my dream. So I think this is a great opportunity for me to help younger athletes also achieve their Olympic dreams.”
As young children and excited tourists scrambled to get their picture taken with Yoggl, President Rogge spoke of his confidence that the first edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games would be a success.
“Austrian people love winter sports and Innsbruck is a unique place. It is full of history and culture and is home to a unique concentration of sports venues as host of the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games,” he said. “After the great success of the first Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, I have every reason to believe the same success will come in Innsbruck.”