Innsbruck, Austria is celebrating Thursday the one-year countdown to the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 which takes place January 13 to 22.
According to a press release, the Innsbruck Youth Games will feature 1,000 athletes ages 15 to 18 taking part in “elite-level competition with an integrated Culture and Education Programme focused on themes ranging from Olympism and Olympic values, to skills development”.
Festivities begin with a countdown clock at 20:12 local time by Tyrol Governor Gunther Platter, and a gathering of Tyrolean Olympic Medallists, media and guests, who will be invited to try out some of the sports on the Innsbruck 2012 program.
Celebrations continue until February 4 – the 35th anniversary of the last Olympic Winter Games held in Innsbruck.
A Youth Olympic Games Snow Festival is to be held then, with thousands of young people expected to attend outdoor concerts and snow sports events.
The official Innsbruck 2012 mascot, based on the “Mountain Goat” design voted for by the public, will be unveiled that day.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said, “just five months ago we celebrated the birth of the Youth Olympic Games with Singapore 2010. Innsbruck 2012 will continue this momentum over 10 action-packed days of competition. These Games, in addition to making their mark on Olympic history, will be a memorable and inspirational event for all the athletes and countless numbers of young people around the world”.
The athletes will compete in the same event sports (biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing) that are on the program for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, although several of the 63 events will be featured for the first time in an Olympic event.
There will also be mixed gender events and mixed National Olympic Committee competitions.
Innsbruck 2012 is also organizing an interactive Culture and Education Programme for the athletes that will be adapted to suit the winter sports environment and “reflect Innsbruck 2012’s creativity and flair” said the press release.