The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, praised the inaugural edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck as the event reached its halfway mark today
“After the success of Singapore, it is heart warming to witness a city come alive once again with the spirit of the Youth Olympic Games. The local communities have come out in force to enjoy the high-level sports competition on offer, while international spectators have travelled from far and wide to show their support”, he said.
“In the five days of the Games so far, we have seen ski halfpipe and women’s ski jump make their debut on an Olympic programme and the introduction of new sport formats, such as the mixed gender parallel team event in Alpine skiing. All were received with great enthusiasm by spectators in the packed stadiums”, Rogge added.
Over 1,000 athletes and more than 500 officials are attending the Games in Innsbruck, which are being staffed by 1,400 volunteers and covered by over 1,000 accredited media representatives from around the world.
The participation of 70 National Olympic Committees is a strong demonstration of the event’s universality, with athletes from 21 countries winning medals thus far, including Morocco, whose sole athlete – Adam Lamhamedi – made history as the first African to win a medal at a winter Olympic event when he took gold in the Super-G.
Of 63 medal events in total at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, 30 have so far concluded and 117 medals have been won. The medals have been awarded at the evening ceremonies held at the Medal Plaza, which have attracted crowds of over 3,500. Of the 30 medal events that have taken place, four are making their debut on an Olympic programme: women’s ski jump; ski halfpipe; mixed gender parallel team event in Alpine skiing; and mixed gender team relay in luge. And there are still plenty more new formats to come.
“The new sports formats have been a huge draw in terms of attendance and have added real excitement to the Games,” said the IOC’s Olympic Games Executive Director, Gilbert Felli. “The International Federations have truly embraced the Winter Youth Olympic Games and contributed to their success”, he added.
Ireland’s only competitor, 15 years old Florence Bell competes later this afternoon in the Ladies Giant Slalom.
In her ‘Olympics Diary’ note to her many friends and supporters last night, she talked of her final practice sessions:
“It was absolutely freezing when (coach) Lynn (Sharp) and I got up to the training hill at 7.30am today!! I had a reasonable morning of training but finished early so that I can prepare for the GS race tomorrow. I feel prepared (as prepared as you can be) and I am really looking forward to racing, now”
Two runs are scheduled in her first event – the Ladies’ Giant Slalom – which takes place at Patscherkofel .