Ice hockey star Mats Zuccarello, YOG Ambassador from Norway, is upbeat about how his fellow Norwegians and the athletes and officials can expect the experience of a lifetime when they gather in Lillehammer for the Youth Olympic Games in February.
“It will be a big success,’’ says Zuccarello, who joins snowboard slopestyler Silje Norendal and alpine skiers Lindsey Vonn and Kjetil Jansrud as IOC Ambassadors for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Lillehammer hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1994, and once again this small town in Norway will welcome the world to an Olympic event. But this time it’s all about the youth, and not only the athletes. Through its slogan “Go beyond. Create tomorrow” the Lillehammer 2016 organization committee has involved youth in all aspects of the event.
“We’re really excited about handing youth a vital role in the event. 57 percent of the 3200 volunteers are under the age of 30. In total there will be 800 volunteers being younger than 20. Even for a country with so much volunteer spirit in their blood, this is simply amazing,”
Magne Vikøren, Chief Communication Officer for Lillehammer 2016.
Right now the Torch Tour for Lillehammer 2016 is on its way throughout Norway. This is not a traditional torch relay.
“We have decided to take the Youth Olympic Flame on a road trip! It will stop 21 times to celebrate young change makers from every county in Norway – these are young volunteers that are creating countless sporting activities in their local community.”
“Lillehammer 2016 is created for and with young people and that’s why with this Torch Tour we are using the flame to let these young volunteers shine and celebrate them and they will also play a part in the Opening Ceremony with celebrities such as six-time Olympic champion Marit Bjørgen and H.R.H. Princess Ingrid Alexandra.”
The support for winter sports in Norway is somewhat unique, according to Mats Zuccarello:
“We just love the Winter Olympics. Skiing is very big back home and when Norway competes at something they are good at, everyone becomes a fan. We have been good at skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon and speed-skating for a long time and it has become a tradition to watch the Olympics.
“Everyone can ski back home and biathlon is a sport they love. It may not be the most entertaining sport to look at but everyone looks at it anyway. It is part of our culture. “
“I think people are excited about the Youth Games and it will be a great environment for the athletes. This will give them a taste of what the real Olympics are like and hopefully this will be something they remember for the rest of their lives.”
The Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer will be proof of a living legacy from the Winter Olympics in 1994. The venues from the 1994 winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer will be reused for the Youth Olympics in 2016, together with the superpipe in Oslo Vinterpark. Reuse is important for the YOG, but we will also contribute to development through new investments in venues and equipment. Improvements are done in most of our existing venues and new venues for Curling and Ice Hockey have been built. Hafjell Alpine Centre has seen substantial upgrades gaining status as a National Venue for technical Alpine disciplines.
The greatest investment for Lillehammer 2016 is the Youth Olympic Village at Stampesletta. The IOC has contributed with 108 million NOK to the village, which already from fall 2015 started housing 360 students. During the Games, 900 athletes will live in the village.
- Hosted from 12-21 February 2016 in Lillehammer, Hamar, Gjøvik, Øyer and Oslo.
- 1100 young athletes from the age of 15 to 18 from 70 nations will compete in 70 medal events.
- 15 winter disciplines are on the schedule, with some brand new events included.
- Lillehammer 2016 is the fourth Youth Olympic Games, following Singapore, Innsbruck and Nanjing.