The Austrian city of Innsbruck is celebrating the one-year-to-go mark in the countdown to the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012.
Scheduled to take place from 13 to 22 January 2012, the Innsbruck Winter Youth Olympic Games will feature approximately 1,000 athletes aged 15 to 18 taking part in elite-level competition with an integrated Culture and Education Programme focused on themes ranging from Olympism and Olympic values to skills development.
Festivities in Innsbruck include the start of a countdown clock by Tyrol Governor Gunther Platter and a gathering of Tyrolean Olympic Medallists, media and other guests.
The celebrations will continue until 4 February, the 35th anniversary of the last Olympic Winter Games held in Innsbruck, in 1976. A Youth OIympic Games Snow Festival will be held on that day, with thousands of young people expected to attend outdoor concerts and snow sports events. The official Innsbruck 2012 mascot, based on the ”Mountain Goat” design voted for by the public in December 2010, will also be unveiled.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said: “Just five months ago we celebrated the birth of the Youth Olympic Games with Singapore 2010. Innsbruck 2012 will continue this momentum over 10 action-packed days of competition. These Games, in addition to making their mark on Olympic history, will be a memorable and inspirational event for all the athletes and countless numbers of young people around the world.”
Innsbruck’s preparations are on schedule to deliver a memorable first winter edition, which follows the highly successful inaugural Summer Youth OIympic Games in Singapore last August.
The young athletes will compete in the same seven sports (biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing) on the programme for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, although a number of the 63 events will feature for the first time in an Olympic event. They include:
• Biathlon Mixed Relay
• Luge Team Relay
• Ski Halfpipe
• Snowboard Slopestyle
• Figure Skating Team Event
• Ice Hockey Skills Challenge
• Women’s Ski Jumping
In addition to mixed gender events, there will also be mixed National Olympic Committee (NOC) competitions.
The Innsbruck 2012 Organising Committee will also prepare an interactive Culture and Education Programme for the athletes that will be adapted to suit the winter sports environment and reflect Innsbruck 2012’s creativity and flair.