(ATR) With two days to go before the opening of the Winter Youth Olympic Games, journalists take a tour of the village for the teenage competitors in Innsbruck.
Flags from the 70 countries participating in the Games pepper the village. (ATR)
Just northeast of the city center, the village is comprised of 13 buildings, 11 of which are housing.
Roughly 1,650 athletes and officials will be housed in the six-, seven- and eight-story buildings for nearly two weeks. Two-thirds of the 444 newly built apartments are already occupied with 495 more athletes expected to arrive later Wednesday.
The environmentally friendly complex was built with passive-house technology as a means to approach zero-energy consumption while also being practical, affordable, comfortable and sustainable. It's the largest of its kind in the European Union.
“We did our best to make people feel comfortable here,” said Innsbruck 2012 CEO Peter Bayer.
“The apartments were built in a sustainable way with a very high standard. We are quite proud of this."
The modern, energy-saving apartments offer excellent building insulation, triple-glazed windows and a comprehensive ventilation system.
Special metals were used in the construction of the buildings. Depending upon the reflection of the sun, the colors of gold, silver and bronze come across on the buildings.
The total cost of the project, which began in December 2009 and was completed in October 2011, was about $78 million.
Thirty previously unemployed carpenters built all the furniture for the units. (ATR)
Formerly an Austrian military camp, the apartment buildings will become a social housing project following the WYOG.
“The village will continue the Olympic legacy beyond the Games,” said Innsbruck 2012 marketing director Georg Spazier. “It’s great because in Innsbruck there are not so many apartments or flats so this will really help out the city.”
High-speed internet is available in all units, but there are no televisions. Between three to five athletes per unit share a bathroom.
Furniture in all units was built by 30 carpenters who previously were unemployed, another socially responsible aspect of the village.
Anti-doping control, adhering to the same guidelines as traditional Olympic Games, also has a presence on the premises. Cigarettes and alcohol are prohibited.
Building A serves as the residence center and handles any problems or needs the young athletes may have. There is also a small store, and international phone services are provided here.
An Italian snowman. (ATR)
Building B, which houses the Swiss team, also serves as a medical building with 24-hour services and care as well as doping control, physiotherapy – and for the first time at an Olympic Games – psychological care.
A private security firm patrols the grounds around the clock.
Breakfast and snacks are also offered daily to the athletes, although dinners are provided at the Congress Center Innsbruck near the city center.
Also available in one of the units is a multi-faith room for reflection or prayer.
Inside, posters on the walls encourage the athletes to “Save Water, Save Energy and Recycle Waste.”
Olympic Champion Serves Team Australia
Olympic aerials 2002 gold medalist Alisa Camplin is the chef de mission for her native Australia.
Aussie chef de mission Alisa Camplin (right) and skier Thomas Waddell. (ATR)
Aussie athletes arrived in Innsbruck between three and four days ago and have comfortably settled into their apartments.
“We love the village – it’s awesome. It’s outstanding accommodations for the athletes,” Camplin said Wednesday.
“The organizing committee got us in really fast. We commend them and the village builders.
“Being between the ages of 15 and 18, this is their first Olympic Games and we are trying to make this fun for them,” she added.
To do so, Camplin helped decorate the Australian apartments with surfboards and the team’s Boxing Kangaroo mascot.
Representing Australia at the WYOG in freestyle skiing halfpipe is Thomas Waddell.
“It’s really good to be here at the village – I’m really stoked about it,” he said. “Basically everything here is new for me: the uniforms, transportation. So far we’ve been looked after really well.
“I’m stoked to be in halfpipe here, and I’m aiming for 2014,” Waddell added in reference to the next Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“We have figure skaters, hockey players and a luger from the north who have never seen snow before,” Camplin said. “With all the new snow here in Innsbruck, it’s really perfect.”
Written and reported in Innsbruck by Brian Pinelli.
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