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21 Feb 2007
IOC News

Europe’s sporting youth in Jaca

For the first time in its national sports history, Spain is organising a winter sports competition, under the auspices of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC): the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), which is taking place from 18 to 23 February 2007 in the city of Jaca, in the Aragon valley, the heart of the Pyrenees. Few days before the start of the competitions, the torch for this Festival was lit from the Olympic Museum cauldron in Lausanne by the EOC President, Patrick J. Hickey, who presented it to the President of the EYOF Organising Committee, Enrique Villarroya, also Mayor Jaca.

Tomorrow’s champions
Organised alternately every two years (summer and winter) and created in 1990 upon the initiative of the current IOC President, Jacques Rogge, who was then EOC President, this festival gives young athletes the opportunity to experience a sporting event in an Olympic atmosphere, just like the champions they have seen on television and those who have made them dream during the Games. After an Olympic-style opening ceremony – with the raising of the Olympic flag, lighting of the cauldron, and an oath taken by an athlete and a judge – the 900 young people, aged 15 to 18, representing 43 of the 48 EOC member countries, compete for a place on the podium in the following six sports: biathlon, ice hockey, figure skating, Alpine skiing, cross country skiing and snowboarding.

From the Festival to the Olympic Games
Who knows? Maybe one day, some of the 900 young athletes present in Jaca will write the pages of Olympic history, becoming, in turn, role models for future generations. In this way, they will imitate the plethora of today’s international stars who obtained their first successes at the EYOF. They include tennis player Justine Henin, Olympic champion in Athens; and skiers Anja Paerson (Olympic champion in Turin and triple world champion at the recent world championships in Åre); Janica Kostelic (quadruple Olympic champion, with three gold medals in Salt Lake City and one in Turin); and her brother Ivica (silver medal in Turin). 

Jaca 2007 official web site
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