Today: Last Update:

  • Winter Youth Olympic Games Candidate Profiles


    (ATR) Two past Olympic cities, a small Finnish city and a winter sport newcomer in Asia will vie to host the first edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012.

    Harbin, China; Innsbruck, Austria; Kuopio, Finland; and Lillehammer, Norway have been nominated to host the 2012 YOG by their national Olympic committees.

    The cities will now respond to an International Olympic Committee questionnaire with a candidature file, due on June 19. Similar to the Summer YOG requirements, the IOC seeks a physically compact Games, sets a limited number of disciplines, bars new construction, and wants a robust culture and education program.

    Cities which make an August short list will be investigated by an IOC Evaluation Commission. In November, the IOC Executive Board will recommend candidates for a full IOC postal vote. The results will be announced in December 2008.

    The lack of specialized winter sport facilities in many cities may not be a concern. The questionnaire specifies that bobsleigh, skeleton, ski jumping and speed skating need be held only if infrastructure already exists. Luge may be held on a natural track if there is no artificial track, according to the questionnaire.

    Presented here are the candidates, in alphabetical order:

    Harbin, China
    Previous sports experience:
    Bid for 2010 Winter Olympics
    2008 National Winter Games
    1996 Asian Winter Games
    Harbin holds an annual ice festival, featuring ice art. (Harbin 2009)  

    Harbin will host the 2009 Winter Universiade. The 2009 organizing committee delivered games invitations to Harbin postal officials in a ceremony days before the WYOG announcement. There is no venue for sliding sports, but other new construction in the city and at the Maoer Mountian and Yabuli ski resorts are sure to be part of the 2012 bid. The city also hosts the International Skating Union World Short Track Speed Skating Team Championships in March 2008, and the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship in April.

    Innsbruck, Austria
    Previous sports experience:
    1964, 1976 Winter Olympics
    2007 Luge World Championships
    2005 Winter Universiade
    Annual Four Hills ski tournament
    Innsbruck is surrounded on all sides by slopes. (Getty Images)  

    Innsbruck, along with Alpine sites within a few kilometers of the city, is a long-established winter sport resort. The artificially refrigerated sliding track at nearby Igls dates from 1976, but is still in world-class form. Architect Zaha Hadid updated the ski jump venue at Bergisel Mountain in 2002. Ice and snow sport competitions at the national, continental and international levels regularly visit the city. It is also host to major summer sport competitions: UEFA and UCI will hold 2008 events in Innsbruck.

    Kuopio, Finland
    Previous sports experience:
    National and international ski jump events
    Kuopio advertises at a ski jump event. (Getty Images)  

    Kuopio, a town in nearly the middle of Finland, is a regular ski jump destination – it hosted an event in the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in March, stepping in after high winds at another Finnish site forced a move. Nearby mountains offer suitable sites for skiing and snowboarding. There are two ice halls in the town. Kuopio is connected by good air, rail and road links with Helsinki, 400 km away.

    Lillehammer, Norway
    Previous sports experience:

    1994 Winter Olympics
    A Lillehammer ski run for the 1994 Olympics. (Getty Images)  

    The Lillehammer Olympics are known as a well-organized Games with enthusiastic crowds. The legacy of those Games brought more than just facilities, but also fame for the town which had been little known outside of the region. Lillehammer worked on a joint 2014 Winter Olympics bid with Oslo. The city regularly hosts elite snow ice sport competitions.

    Written by Maggie Lee

    For general comments or questions,
    click here

    The Golden 25 special edition magazine is now available in PDF.
    Click here to see who will be most influential in the Olympic Movement in 2008.

    Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.