As tiny lights twinkled high above in the surrounding snow-capped Tyrolean Mountains, a crowd of 15,000 athletes, spectators and Olympic champions welcomed the official opening of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games with a spectacular Ceremony at the iconic Bergisel Stadium.
With the illuminated ski jump taking centre stage, the crowd were warmed against the night with a fantastic show fusing past and present in a nod to the Olympic history of the city, which has already hosted the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders flew overhead and local groups performed Tyrolean dances in traditional costume with a hip-hop twist.
With the crowd in full voice, over 1,000 athletes then proudly looked on as the flagbearers from 70 countries walked in, waving to the stands and to the IOC President Jacques Rogge as he smiled on.
And then, the moment we had all been building up to: the lighting of the youth Olympic cauldron. In dramatic style, the youth Olympic torch appeared at the top of the ski jump in the hands of Olympic champion Leonhard Stock for a daredevil run down the slope and into the hands of the second torchbearer, YOG Ambassador Yuna Kim.
Travelling up and around the steep stand, the torch was carried by a dazzling selection of Austrian sports stars and into the hands of the final three torchbearers, perched high above the crowd and poised to light the three Olympic cauldrons.
First Alpine skiing legend Egon Zimmermann lit the 1964 Olympic cauldron, then it was the turn of Olympic champion Franz Klammer, who lit the 1976 cauldron, and finally, representing the next generation of Austrian Olympians was Paul Gerstgraser, a young Austrian Nordic-combined star competing at Innsbruck 2012, who had the honour of lighting the newly-created Youth Olympic Games cauldron.
As the three flames blazed, the crowd erupted into cheers and celebrations in anticipation of 10 days of YOG-tastic sporting competition in a city already steeped in Olympic history! Let the YOG begin!Be part of it by following us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!