The Youth Olympic Torch Relay spread the YOG spirit across Austria
A total of 2,012 runners covered 3,573km along a route taking in 63 stops, including all nine regional capitals as well as some of the country’s most famous winter-sports resorts for the Youth Olympic Torch Relay ahead of Innsbruck 2012.
The Youth Olympic flame was lit in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 17 December 2011, before being transported to Innsbruck in a Hercules C-130 belonging to the Austrian Armed Forces. After remaining on display in Maria-Theresien-Straße for 10 days, the Youth Olympic flame began its journey across Austria on 27 December.
Exactly 2,012 national and international runners were selected to carry the Youth Olympic flame during its 18-day odyssey, spreading enthusiasm for the Games among the local population and inspiring spectators from across the world with their personal stories.
The first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games Torch Relay was made possible thanks to the support of the official Presenting Partners Coca-Cola and Samsung.
Of the 65 towns and municipalities chosen to welcome the Youth Olympic flame, many had to contend with some pretty challenging weather conditions, with the stops in Maria Alm and Zell am See even having to be cancelled due to impassable roads. Yet, despite some of the heaviest snowfall seen in decades, the Youth Olympic Torch Relay managed to defy the weather and stay on schedule for the large numbers of spectators who lined the roads to cheer on the flame.
Accompanying the Youth Olympic flame on its journey through Austria were numerous famous faces, including Stephan Eberharter (double Olympic champion in Alpine skiing at the 2002 Games), triathlete Martin Falch (Austria’s Disabled Sportsman of the Year 2011), Wolfgang Fasching (three-time winner of the Race Across America), Michaela Dorfmeister (double Olympic champion in Alpine skiing at the 2002 Games), skier Claudia Lösch (Austria’s Disabled Sportswoman of the Year 2010 and 2011) and Prince Nikolai of Denmark.
After 18 days on the road, the finale of the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games Torch Relay was a truly historic event. Egon Zimmermann, Franz Klammer and young Nordic combined athlete Paul Gerstgraser used the Youth Olympic flame to light the cauldrons for the 1964 and the 1976 Olympic Winter Games followed by the new cauldron for the 2012 Youth Olympic Games at the Opening Ceremony in the Bergisel Stadium.