One Year To Go - 2016 Lillehammer Winter Youth Olympic Games
The next time an Australian Olympic Team marches in an Olympic Opening Ceremony will be in exactly 12 months, at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Incredibly, it was in Lillehammer back in 1994 that Australia won its first Olympic winter medal, a relay bronze in short track speed skating, and that podium streak has continued both at the senior and youth Olympic Games.
If competing in Lillehammer wasn’t a good enough omen for the 2016 Australian Winter Youth Olympic Team, anticipated to be 22 athletes, they will be managed by Australia’s first Olympic skiing champion Alisa Camplin.
The champion aerial skier, who won gold at Salt Lake 2002 and bronze at Torino 2006, excelled as the Chef de Mission for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Team in Innsbruck, and she is excited about the countdown to 12 February 2016.
"365 days until another group of upcoming highly talented Australian winter athletes get to test themselves against the rest of the world,” Camplin said.
“The Youth Olympics are an incredibly special learning experience and highly valuable stepping stone for our next generation of senior Olympians. I look forward to helping our athletes maximise this great opportunity and enjoy a very positive experience of Olympism."
"I was very proud that three of our 2012 winter YOG athletes went on to represent Australia in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. This was a massive achievement for such young athletes, and they all cited their WYOG experience as vital to their accelerated growth and desire to become the best athletes they can be."
From the 13 Australian athletes who experienced Innsbruck 2012, snowboarder Alex Fitch and ice hockey skills star Sharnita Cromptonwon bronze medals,backed up by an additional six top-ten finishes across five disciplines.
Alpine skier Greta Small, luge racer Alex Ferlazzo and biathlete Lucy Glanville went on to represent Australia at Sochi 2014. Small is this week skiing superbly against her idol Lindsay Vonn at the World Championships in Beaver Creek and Ferlazzo recently won Australia’s first junior world cup medal.
Small credits her experience of dealing with the pressure of being the flag bearer in 2012 and racing in all alpine events to helping her complete the full program superbly at Sochi 2014.
Camplin knows it is not just the athletes who gain from the Youth Olympic concept, where athletes live together in a Village, experience an Opening Ceremony and top competition in venues of senior Olympic standard.
"There is so much knowledge and experience within the Australian sports system and the YOG movement allows athletes, coaches and officials alike to put this into practise and continue to develop."
Qualification events begin this month in biathlon and short track speed skating.
As well as contesting these disciplines Australia is likely to qualify in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing (cross, halfpipe, slopestyle), ice hockey (individual skills), luge and snowboard (cross, halfpipe, slopestyle).
A new Village is being built for the Games and several of the venues used for the 1994 Olympc Winter Games will feature for 2016. Large crowds are expected for the WYOG in this winter sports mad nation, with the Organising Committee involving many young people in the planning and preparation of the Games.
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