Lillehammer 2016 aims to ‘Go Beyond and Create Tomorrow’
Promising young athletes from all over the world will gather in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer from 12 to 21 February 2016 for the second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The fairy tale scenery of Norway’s Oppland region will provide the backdrop for fantastic feats on the snow and ice at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016.
The iconic competition venues that took centre stage at the Olympic Winter Games Lillehammer 1994, such as Birkebeineren Ski Stadium, Lysgårdsbakken Ski Jumping Arena, Hafjell ski resort, the Viking ship-shaped Hamar Olympic Hall and Gjøvik Olympic Cavern Hall will all be put into service again, providing the stage for the usual array of winter sports as well as new, less familiar disciplines. Featured among the latter are the monobob (a single-seater bobsleigh event), the Nordic mixed team event (a combination of cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined) and the team ski-snowboard cross, a mixed-team event for both skiers and snowboarders.
On the ice hockey rink, the individual skills challenge will make a welcome return, enabling players to showcase their shooting accuracy, puck control and skating agility.
The winter and summer editions of the Youth Olympic Games serve as a veritable testing ground for new events, some of which have in the past been promoted to the Olympic Games.
These champions of the future will not solely be on the hunt for medals at the Games, as they will also have the chance to take part in numerous workshops dealing with topics central to their athletic and future careers, receive training in the very latest multimedia technology, and let their hair down at the “Sjoggfest” – a series of festivals, concerts and cultural events.
Birth of the YOG
Future elite athletes have always performed in national and international competitions from a young age, but until very recently they did not have the opportunity to compete together in a major global multi-sport event, in a warm and friendly environment where learning and skills-based activities are also prioritised.
At the instigation of Jacques Rogge, IOC President from 2001 to 2013, the Youth Olympic Games, reserved for competitors between 14 and 18, were created during the international body’s 119th session in Guatemala City in July 2007. “This is a historic moment for the Olympic Movement. We owe that to the youth of the world,” said Rogge at the time.
The first two editions of the Summer Youth Olympic Games were held in Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing (CHN) in 2014. The inaugural Winter YOG took place in Innsbruck (AUT) in February 2012. The goals of the YOG, which provide a taste of the Olympic Games experience, include educating young athletes on the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect, and encouraging them to take pleasure in their sports, look up to role models and respect fair play. This is all part of a programme called “Learn & Share”.
Attendees will be provided with crucial information relating to their elite sporting career and beyond, with the help of inspiring Young Ambassadors, whose role is to pass on their invaluable experience and advice. Key facts about nutrition, the dangers of doping and professional development are also placed at athletes’ disposal.
Completing the circle
YOG participants become Youth Olympians for life and ambassadors for Olympic values once they return to their respective homelands. The slogan for Lillehammer 2016, “Go Beyond, Create Tomorrow”, is an invitation for them to ready themselves for greater challenges.
In fact, a number of athletes who shone at Innsbruck 2012 went on to enjoy success two years later in Sochi, such as figure skater Adelina Sotnikova (RUS), who won a silver medal at the YOG and was crowned Olympic champion in 2014.
In February 2016, a whole host of eager competitors will be hoping to emerge successful from their own events in Lillehammer, before dreaming of success at PyeongChang 2018.