16 top level junior curling teams from around the world are set to gather at the Innsbruck Exhibition Centre, Austria, later this week to compete in the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games taking place from 13 to 22 January.
Teams from Austria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, will be represented in the curling events in the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Young athletes will be hoping to win their first Olympic medals by making the podium in one of the two unique curling competitions being staged throughout the Games. Eight ends will be played as a minimum in each game, in each competition, the first being the Mixed Curling Competition. This will see national mixed teams of four (two male and two female athletes) compete against one another with play beginning at 09:00 (Local/CET) on Saturday 14 January and the finals taking place on Wednesday 18.
After that, a unique and innovative Mixed Doubles curling competition will take place from 09:00 (Local/CET) on 20 January. This will see one male and one female athlete, from different countries, playing together as a team. The teams will be determined by the athletes position within their team and their nations overall position following the Mixed Curling Competition. The finals will be played on Sunday 22 January.
In addition to the competition, athletes will be taking part in a wider cultural exchange programme at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. While sports participation is at the heart of the Games, uniquely, they also aim to allow athletes to step away from their own fields of play and learn something about the culture of competitors from other parts of the world, as well as becoming involved in Olympic-themed education programmes.
Athletes will also be able given the opportunity to learn from senior professionals within their discipline, through the Athlete Role Model Programme. Olympians Eve Muirhead (Great Britain) and Uli Kapp (Germany) will be sharing their experiences and offering advice in personal sessions throughout the event with all of the athletes.
Curling fans will be able to keep up to date with the latest scores from the event via the World Curling Federation website: http://www.worldcurling.org/youth-olympic-games
The World Curling Federation will also be updating regularly from the event via their fan feeds on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/worldcurling) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/WorldCurlingFederation)
SportsNewsIreland will keep you up to date with all the news from Innsbruck throughout the competition.