Winter EYOF 2022 – Vuokatti, 2021 Chef de Mission Seminar

The Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) for 2022 will take place in Vuokatti, Finland from 20-26 March. The EYOF is an event organized by the European Olympic Committee for young athletes, typically aged between 15-18, giving athletes the taste of multi-sport competitions.

Originally known as the European Youth Olympic Days, the event has been running since 1993, with the summer edition occurring since 1991. Over six days next March young athletes from around Europe test themselves against each other across a range of sports, like skiing, ice-hockey and skating. It will be a case of third time lucky for the event organisers, with Covid-19 resulting in the event being postponed twice.

Ireland generally sends a small team to these Games, with the 2022 team tracking to have athletes across Alpine Skiing and Figure Skating. This is the first time that Ireland is set to have an athlete competing in figure skating. 2022 will be a first for the Winter EYOF, as Vuokatti will host the event for the second time. In 2001 they hosted the European Youth Olympic Days using the same facilities.

The beautifully located Vuokatti is the host town for the Games, the small ski resort in Finland is the high performance centre for the Finnish Cross Country team and has hosted many high profile events to date. Located on the edge of a (frozen) lake, the athletes will be based in either the wooden chalets which make up the main athlete’s village, or in the hotel at the heart of the venues. All of the delegation will be located within walking distance of venues, and beside the oldest ski tunnel in Finland – a 1.25km long tunnel that is used for training by athletes during particularly cold days, and also by huskies!

The official mascot for the Winter EYOF 2022 is a Siberian Jay, which is a local bird who is known for being social – he has been named Quukkel. The local community play an important role in the successful execution of the event, with approximately 800 volunteers involved with the event, many of whom are under 30. There has been a keen focus on providing experience to teenage students, who will be involved specifically with providing assistance to the NOCs.  

In September 2021 an official video was released with the aim of encouraging people to follow their dreams and to believe in themselves. A local baker also has created a unique cake dedicated to the EYOF, made from a specially created recipe using local berries.

The Chef de Mission for Vuokatti is Linda O’Reilly, who works as Operations Manager in the Olympic Federation of Ireland. O’Reilly has been working with the NOC of Ireland since Barcelona 1992, and in 2019 was Chef de Mission for the inaugural World Beach Games in Doha.

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