(ATR) The Youth Olympic Flame continues its journey to Lillehammer with a festive visit to the picturesque village of Morgedal, often referred to as the “Cradle of Skiing”.
The Olympic Flame in Morgedal (Lillehammer 2016)
As the eleventh stop on the Lillehammer YOG Torch Tour on Saturday, it marked the fourth time that the Olympic Flame visited the Norwegian village in the county of Telemark.
The lighting of the Olympic Flame occurred in Morgedal for the Games of Oslo 1952, Squaw Valley 1960 and Lillehammer 1994, the only occasions that the Winter Olympic flame has been lit outside of Greece.
Lillehammer 2016 Torch Tour organizers wanted to continue the tradition of the flame visiting the historic winter sports town, but this time with an enhanced youth oriented approach.
“The mayor of Morgedal and the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports have supported us from the beginning,” said Guri Ramtoft, the 23-year-old Torch Tour event organizer. “When we told them about our plans, their answer was ‘this is an event for the youth, no leash needed'.”
Refugees enjoy sledding in Morgedal. (ATR)
Seven-hundred young participants and 300 refugees living in centers in Telemark were onsite for the torch festivities in Morgedal. Many of the refugees who were invited tried winter sports for the first time.
“For us it was natural to invite refugees to take part in this celebration of youth,” Ramtoft said. “And I can tell from their smiles that they enjoyed it. I cannot think of any better way to welcome the refugees to Norway and Telemark, than let them play and have fun in the snow.”
Transportation to Morgedal – located about 200 kilometers west of the capital of Oslo – was provided by organizers. Free meals and winter activities were on offer, while popular artists contributed to the atmosphere.
In Morgedal, the Olympic Flame was lit by 19-year-old athletics coach Kine Styrvold.
“This means a lot to me,” Styrvold said. “I’m beyond words,” she said after the ceremony.
Picturesque Morgedal (Lillehammer 2016)
Morgedal was home to the famous Norwegian Sondre Norheim, widely considered as the father of modern skiing.
Norwegian NOC secretary general Inge Andersen said that the participation of Norway’s youth in the Torch Tour has exceeded all expectations.
“The youth have really embraced the Torch Tour and it is a pleasure to see how they include everyone to participate - fully in line with how we want Norwegian sports to be,” Andersen said.
“We are only halfway into the torch and have already celebrated young volunteers and the Olympic values together with 12,500 youths. This is far more then I, and the organizing committee expected,” he said.
The 21-city Torch Tour, moving counter-clockwise around Norway continued with a visit to Sandefjord on Monday. It concludes in Hamar on Thursday, Feb. 11, before making its way to Lillehammer for the opening ceremony of the second Winter Youth Olympic Games at Lysgårdsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena on Friday the 12th.
The Norwegian Princess, Ingrid Alexandra will light the Olympic flame in Lillehammer – exactly 22 years to the day since her father lit the cauldron in 1994.
Written by Brian Pinelli
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