One year on from the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020, olympic.org looks back at some of the highlights from the Games.
It has been one year since a record 1,784 athletes from 79 countries gathered in Lausanne for the third edition of the Winter YOG, but the memories of their eye-catching performances are still as fresh as ever.
Competing across 81 events in eight sports and 16 disciplines, these stars of tomorrow thrilled fans in venues throughout the cantons of Vaud, Valais and Graubünden, as well as in neighbouring France, with more than 640,000 spectators taking advantage of the free events to attend the Games and the "En Jeux!" festivals, including 80,000 schoolchildren.
Here, we relive some of the incredible moments they were able to enjoy…
Host nation heroics on opening day
Swiss athletes clearly revelled in performing in front of enthusiastic home crowds, winning an impressive 24 medals between them – including 10 golds. The host nation’s gold rush began on the opening day of competition, with 17-year-old skier Amélie Klopfenstein winning the women's super-G to clinch the first medal of the Games, before Caroline Ulrich led home a Swiss one-two ahead of Thibe Deseyn in the women’s ski mountaineering. Thomas Bussard then beat twin brother Robin to gold in the men’s ski mountaineering event to cap an incredible opening day for the Swiss team.
Norwegian curlers inspired by the YOG
Norway’s mixed curling team clinched gold after beating Japan 5-4 in the final – with their journey to the top of the podium beginning at the previous Winter YOG in Lillehammer four years earlier. Two of their players, Lukas Høstmælingen and Grunde Buraas, had taken up the sport after being inspired by watching the curlers at Lillehammer 2016. The pair were joined in Lausanne by Nora Østgård and Ingeborg Forbregd, with the quartet successfully navigating an extra end to secure the gold, after Japan had tied the scores with their last stone of the game.
The future is now for freestyle skiers
The YOG aren’t only about showcasing the best talents of tomorrow; they also attract some of the biggest names in sport. Kelly Sildaru was already a huge star in freestyle skiing before she even arrived in Lausanne and would have been a contender for gold at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 had she not been ruled out by a knee injury. The Estonian has been racking up titles ever since she won her first X Games gold medal in 2016 at the age of just 13, and she didn’t disappoint at the Winter YOG as she clinched slopestyle gold to add to the world halfpipe title she won in 2019. And Sildaru wasn’t the only global star competing in Lausanne, with Eileen Gu already a winner on the FIS World Cup circuit before arriving at the YOG. The Chinese teenager finished as runner-up to Sildaru in slopestyle before topping the podium in both the halfpipe and big air, with the duo likely to now face each other once again at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Figure skaters follow in illustrious tracks
Korean figure skater You Young took up the sport after being inspired by Yuna Kim’s gold medal-winning performance at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, and in Lausanne she took her first steps towards reaching the top of the Olympic podium herself as she was crowned YOG champion thanks to her impressive triple Axel in the free skate. Similarly, Japan’s Kagiyama Yuma also has some big skates to fill as he looks to emulate the achievements of compatriot Hanyu Yuzuru – the 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion. And just like You, Kagiyama gave himself the best possible start as he clinched gold in the men’s singles in Lausanne after landing two quads and a triple Axel in his free skate.
Next generation of hockey stars shine brightly
The Lausanne 2020 men’s ice hockey tournament featured two standout stars who could potentially be facing off on the NHL and Olympic stages for years to come. The USA’s Isaac Howard netted hat-tricks in emphatic group stage victories over Finland and Switzerland, as well as the winning goal against Canada in the semi-finals, while Russian forward Matvei Michkov finished as the tournament’s leading scorer with nine goals – including two in the 4-0 final win over Howard’s US team. Howard and Michkov have been tipped as leading prospects for the NHL Drafts in 2022 and 2023 respectively, and judging by their performances at last year’s YOG, it’s easy to see why.