I am reporting in from Innsbruck, Austria at the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games.
I am attending as an Athlete Role Model; there are 35 of us across different Olympic sports and all these champions are here to hang out with the youth athletes.
It was quite the contrast of environments as I had been summer holidaying out at Great Barrier Island, surfing, fishing and swimming and then to arrive in this mountain town, which was completely covered in snow! We woke to heavy snow falling in the streets so before breakfast on went the hats, gloves, jackets and pants to make snow angels in the fresh snow outside the hotel!!! Hmmmm probably not the most normal thing for a 44 year old to be doing.
My first three days were spent in the congress hall where all the athlete culture and education programmes were being staged. The IOC and Innsbruck Organising Committee have done an amazing job of putting together such a diverse range of programmes together. From cooking classes, drumming lessons, sports betting rules to media training. My favourite was the mountain fun and snow experience where you do team building exercises in the snow from tobogganing to sled racing. These kids are so lucky to be exposed to so much information and experiences. But most importantly they are here to represent their countries in winter sports.
Our kiwi contingent of athletes have done us proud. Hopefully they will all now go home motivated and hungry to get to the Winter Olympic Games in the future and now have more of an insight into what the required level to achieve success is.
The IOC is trying to keep the Youth Games scaled down so smaller nations could host this event. Maybe in the future this could be on New Zealand’s radar of possible events?