Opening Ceremony for Winter Youth Olympics Tonight at 7pm Local Time
Alpine Skier Matt Ryan has been announced as the flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Youth Olympic Games which takes place this evening in Lausanne, the home of the Olympic movement. Ryan is one of two athletes competing for Team Ireland at the Youth Olympics which run from the 9 – 22 January in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Irish interest will be in the Alpine Skiing which takes place in Les Diablerets from the 10 – 14 January, and which will feature Emma Austin and flagbearer Ryan, who competed for Team Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Sarajevo last February. The Opening Ceremony will be streamed live on the Olympic Channel HERE.
Massachusetts born Ryan competes for Waterville Valley Academy and will be the first athlete to compete in this year’s Games, racing in Super G, Alpine Combined, Giant Slalom and Slalom. Ryan’s Irish roots lie in Dublin and Roscommon, and his parents moved to Boston in their twenties.
Speaking ahead of the Opening Ceremony, the seventeen year old said, “I’m super excited and honoured to carry the flag for Ireland, I’m looking forward to it. It should be a nice ceremony - I was at one last year, and it should be great!”
Austin will compete in the Giant Slalom and Slalom, and while this is her first multi-sport Games, she is no stranger to the Irish vest, having competed in the Junior World Championships last year, and also competes on the Irish Lacrosse Team. Based in New Hampshire, Austin’s Irish roots are in Cork, where her father’s family hail from Clonakilty.
After two days of acclimatisation in Lausanne, Chef de Mission Nancy Chillingworth is impressed with the set up in Lausanne, and is looking forward to the competition starting,
“We have had a couple of days in the mountains, and the set-up is good. Both Matt and Emma have settled in well to the village and have maximised their opportunity to train on the course, and get used to the snow, which is a little grippier than what they are used to at their home bases. Matt will be the first to compete tomorrow, in the Super G, and this will be a great starting point for team for the week. The athletes are prepared and excited to race, and the mood in the camp is really positive.”
In Alpine Skiing, Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G are similar, with the races being a race against the clock where the athletes ski between poles or gates, which are spaced out differently depending on the event – in slalom the poles are closer together and the athlete uses shorter skis, and in the Super Giant Slalom, or Super G, the poles are wider apart, and the athlete competes on longer skis.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games have complete gender balance, with the same number of males and females competing, and they are a sustainable games with athletes and competitors using existing transport systems. Over the course of the games almost 1900 athletes are competing in 8 sports, which cover 16 disciplines and 81 sporting events! To maximise sustainability the sports are run in waves, with Alpine Skiing featuring in the first wave.
The Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland will be the first of two major events for Team Ireland in 2020, with the Summer Olympics taking place in Tokyo later this year.
Live Streaming of all events can be watched on the Olympic Channel HERE.