As people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 February, we look back at six special moments that we loved from the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020.
The Opening Ceremony
To begin Lausanne 2020, the Opening Ceremony celebrated the Olympic spirit and welcomed the spectators “Home” to the Olympic Capital.
The ceremony featured a street mural of the YOG medal design, a quote from the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, Pierre de Coubertin, a rendition of the Olympic Anthem by a choir of children picked from eight local schools, and much more.
Finally, the Olympic cauldron was lit by Gina Zehnder, the youngest member of the Swiss delegation at the YOG, symbolising that Lausanne 2020 was made by young people, for young people and with young people.
If ski mountaineering was a relatively unknown event before Lausanne 2020, the Bussard brothers have done their best to bring it into the spotlight.
The Swiss twins dominated the sport that was making its Olympic debut at the YOG, as Thomas and Robin finished first and second respectively in the men’s individual ski mountaineering, before taking gold in the mixed relay alongside fellow Swiss athletes Thibe Deseyn and Caroline Ulrich.
With their success coming at the very beginning of Lausanne 2020, it gave local fans great enthusiasm and blazed the trail for a fantastic YOG.
Lausanne en Jeux!
Nothing typified the community feel of the YOG better than Lausanne en Jeux!, the cultural festival held across all the venues.
It provided an opportunity for young people throughout the country to join in the celebration of young sporting talent, with over 25,000 schoolchildren attending just through their schools’ initiatives.
As well as having the chance to see the athletes at the medal plaza, the children could try to emulate their new role models by visiting “sport initiations”, accessible versions of YOG sports like curling, biathlon, ice hockey and more.
Colombia’s first winter medal
Prior to Lausanne 2020, Colombia had never won a medal at any winter Games. Then came Diego Amaya Martínez. The 16-year-old showed great patience to claim silver in the men’s mass start speed skating event on the iconic Lake St Moritz.
The second-placed finish was made even sweeter by the fact that Amaya Martínez finished fourth in two other events, the 500m and 1,500m, and was disqualified for overtaking infringements in the mixed NOC team sprint.
Finally, though, the Colombian proved that patience is key, and he left Lausanne 2020 with a smile as bright as his silver medal.
Winning a medal at the YOG is a memory to cherish, but becoming the first-ever athlete to appear at a Winter YOG may be even more special to some.
At Lausanne 2020, 12 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated at the Winter YOG for the first time, and they represented a truly global spread of countries.
Haitian Alpine skier Mackenson Florindo proudly said: “It is a bit of history being the first to represent Haiti. I hope it will not be the last time. I plan to continue in the sport now, for sure.”
Norway wins curling gold
One of the main purposes of the YOG is to inspire the next generation to achieve their own sporting dreams, and Lausanne 2020 proved that it is possible for young people to do exactly that.
At Lillehammer 2016, two young Norwegian boys watched curling and fell in love with the sport. Four years later, Lukas Høstmælingen and Grunde Buraas made their appearance at the YOG alongside compatriots Nora Østgård and Ingeborg Forbregd in the mixed team event.
The Norway team were not happy with just appearing at the YOG and went on to win the gold medal, beating Japan in a dramatic final. And who knows? Maybe in four years we will see young Swiss athletes who were inspired by the Norwegian curlers.