Three cauldrons burn above Innsbruck as competition begins in the first Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Three cauldrons of Innsbruck. (ATR)
Two of the cauldrons are from the first two Olympic Games in Innsbruck, 1964 and 1976, with the third for these inaugural Winter YOG.
The cauldrons came ablaze at the end of a 90-minute ceremony held in Bergisel Stadium, site of opening ceremonies for the previous Olympic Games.
About 14,000 filled the stadium, including the 1,000 athletes aged 14 to 18, from 70 nations, who are in Innsbruck for the Games.
One of the early rousing moments occurred as freestyle skiers sped down the ski jumping hill each performing aerial tricks after launching off a ramp while dancers waltzed on stage behind them.
Entertainment blended the past and present with couples dancing a traditional Tyrolean "Schuhplattler" dance while alternating with hip-hop dancers on stage.
Another innovative skit involved two teens chatting on a social dating website about how cool the 1964 and 1976 Olympics were. Classic video from those Games followed while entertainers performed to music from those eras.
Franz Klammer’s memorable gold medal-winning downhill run from the 1976 Games was also shown followed by thunderous applause.
Dancers perform during Friday's opening ceremony. (ATR)
“For the first time, young people from around the world have come together for the Winter Youth Olympic Games, a global celebration of sport and Olympic values,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge in his speech at the ceremony.
“It is altogether fitting that this new Olympic tradition will begin in Innsbruck. These Games will enhance a great legacy that includes Innsbruck’s role as host of the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games.
"Tonight, I can say with great pleasure, Innsbruck, you have done it again,” added Rogge, delivering those comments in German.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer officially declared the Games open.
The cauldrons were lit by 1964 Olympic gold medalist Egon Zimmermann, downhill champ Franz Klammer of 1976 and Paul Gerstgraser, gold medalist in ski jumping at the 2011 European Youth Olympic Festival.
Austrian president Heinz Fischer officially declares the Games open. (ATR)
The ceremony passed without a glitch – until time for the athlete oath, recited by 16-year-old Austrian alpine skier Christina Ager. She forgot the words midway through and twice uttered “Scheisse” with polite laughter from the audience. She was only able to carry on with the use of a crib sheet tucked away.
The fumble was repeated when Angelika Neuner took her turn to say the oath for the coaches. Like Ager, she forgot the words, but after blanking out for a moment, soldiered on and finished by memory.
The evening concluded with a Tyrolean girl singing the Innsbruck 2012 theme song “This is Our Time” followed by an impressive fireworks display high above the ski jumping hill.
More Moms for P&G
Procter & Gamble hopes to expand its “Thank You Moms” campaign throughout the world, Around the Rings
P&G's Marc Pritchard and IOC marketing director Timo Lumme. (ATR)
"We see the program as pretty universal,” P&G global marketing and brand building officer Mark Pritchard tells ATR
“Moms and athletes kind of work together pretty nicely. We think that it can be done on a future basis, but just keep refreshing it. Every Games brings a whole new twist."
P&G unveiled its 2012 plans Friday before the start of the YOG. Part of its scheme for the Games includes raising $5 million to sustain youth sports around the world.
Also included in the TOP Sponsor’s plans – continued support of Olympians’ moms.
"Our intention is that every mom of an athlete can have some experience with the Games, whether that be physically there through tickets or even just connections," Pritchard told ATR
P&G's Olympic logo on display at the 75th Anniversary Congress of the International Sports Press Association. (ATR)
"We believe that behind every athlete is an even more amazing mom," he added in a statement. "P&G is in the business of helping moms. Through our 'Thank You Mom' program we will support not just the moms of Olympic athletes but every mom who does whatever it takes to make her child's life the best it can be."
"I am delighted to see the strength of P&G's commitment to the Olympic Movement," said IOC President Jacques Rogge.
"Through its support of mothers of Olympians, P&G is helping athletes. With its support of youth sports, the company is supporting families and is helping to develop athletes every day. It aligns perfectly with the Olympic values."
Full Schedule for Opening Weekend
All eight venues will host competition during a jam-packed opening weekend of events at Innsbruck 2012.
Patscherkofel, the venue for alpine events. (ATR)
Thirty-six years after Austrian legend Franz Klammer made his memorable gold medal run at the 1976 Innsbruck Games, Olympic alpine skiing returns to Patscherkofel Mountain. While downhill races will not be contested at the WYOG, the men and women will reach high speeds during the super-G on Saturday morning.
Alpine skiing continues Sunday with both the men and women competing in super combined, featuring one run of super-G and one run of slalom.
Approximately 30km west of Innsbruck, freestyle skiing and snowboarding take flight in Kühtai, the highest resort in Austria at 2,020 meters above sea level.
Olympic enthusiasts will get their first look at ski halfpipe, also a recent addition to the Sochi 2014 program. Freestyle skiers will go big with qualification rounds Saturday and medals to be awarded Sunday.
Snowboarders will also compete in the K-Park at scenic Kühtai following the same program as their fellow skiers.
Curling stones ready to be thrown. (ATR)
For the first time in the history of an Olympic Games, women's ski jumpers will officially launch Saturday morning after years of perseverance and setbacks.
Along with the men, the first Nordic medals will be awarded in ski jumping at Seefeld Arena, situated in the Seefeld region about 20km northwest of Innsbruck. Events continue at the Nordic venue, which also hosted cross-country and ski jumping events during the 1964 Olympics, with Nordic combined and biathlon on Sunday.
Men’s singles luge happens on Sunday at the Olympic Sliding Centre in the village of Igls, at the foot of Patscherkofel mountain, situated just up the road from Innsbruck.
Figure skating takes to the ice at the Olympiaworld complex, located just minutes from Innsbruck’s Old Town city center. Short programs will be contested by both men and pairs starting late Saturday afternoon. The ladies and ice dancing tandems also compete in short programs come Sunday.
In the adjacent Tyrolean Arena, both men and women face off in preliminary round ice hockey games. The puck drops for the highly anticipated men’s Canada vs. USA matchup on Sunday at 6pm.
Team Russia practices inside the Tyrolean Ice Arena. (ATR)
Also part of the Olympiaworld complex is the Olympic Speed Skating Oval, where for the first time since the 1992 Albertville Games, speed skaters will race outdoors with the natural elements surely playing a factor.
Both the men and women go full steam ahead in the 500-meters with medals for the taking on Saturday.
Curling will be contested with round robin matches in a unique dual gender mixed team competition at the Innsbruck Exhibition Centre Curling Hall.
Medals will be awarded in sixteen of the 63 total events at the Youth Olympic Games on the opening weekend of competition. Every evening in the heart of downtown Innsbruck on Maria Theresien Strasse, medal ceremonies will be held for the young athletes.
Written and reported in Innsbruck by Ed Hula and Brian Pinelli.
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