Innsbruck (Austria): The International Olympic Committee is hoping the Winter Youth Games bring new sports and new formats to the traditional Olympics.
“We need to rejuvenate,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said Friday at the opening of the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics. “We need to adapt to the wishes of the youths and not stay too conservative.”
The event in Innsbruck, which ends Jan. 22, features sports such as snowboard slopestyle and ski halfpipe, which will be added to the Sochi Olympic program for 2014. Other events are in new formats with teams of mixed genders.
The first junior Summer Olympics in Singapore in 2010 experimented with new formats as well.
“We saw new sports and new formats there, and also here,” Rogge said. “They might enter the traditional Olympic program in the future.”
Some of the 14 new events in Innsbruck will be included into the 2014 Sochi Games, like ski halfpipe and women’s ski jumping, which fought an unsuccessful legal battle for inclusion at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“They were not ready in Vancouver,” Rogge said. “But they will be in Sochi 2014. It’s of symbolic significance that they start here at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. There will be a lot of attention for that competition.”
The 10-day event will feature 1,059 athletes aged 15-18 competing in 63 medal competitions.
Rogge is confident the first Winter Youth Olympics will become successful as national federations have been backing the event.
“We have 70 nations competing here, which is a great figure for Winter Olympics,” Rogge said.
“The idea to combine sports with education and culture has proven itself in Singapore as appealing to not just athletes but coaches and officials as well.”
“I believe in this idea to give education to athletes at an age where they are very receptive to that.”