The Irish tricolour is being proudly flown by four athletes competing in the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland. The all-female team consists of Megan Ryan, Charlotte Turner and Kailey Murphy who are competing  in the Alpine Skiing events whilst Elizabeth Golding is making history as the first Irish figure skater.

Whilst the four girls live and train abroad, their Irish connections are undeniable and something they are all immensely proud of. Learn more about the girls below!

Kailey Murphy lives in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and is currently training out of Aspen. Her Dad hails from Leopardstown, Dublin and Kailey doesn’t hesitate to say so. “I am Irish. I consider Ireland my home”. Kailey also loves eating Teddy’s Ice Cream with her cousins when they are together. Kailey is inspired by her siblings, particularly Matt who with Kailey’s sister, Elle, competed for Ireland in EYOF Sarajevo 2019.

Megan Ryan, Ireland’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony, lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and trains in Vermont at Sugarbush Mountain. The majority of Megan’s immediate family lives in Ireland Megan explained. “My mam is from Roscommon and dad is from Dublin. Pretty much all of my cousins are still here”. Her family often splits their summer holidays between the two counties. Megan concentrates on Slalom and Giant Slalom and is excited to experience parallel skiing at these games.

A Connecticut high school student, Charlotte Turner is far from typical in that she is also a top athlete. With a strong accent and a classically American outgoing personality, you could be forgiven for missing Charlotte’s association with Ireland were it not for her team Ireland tracksuit top. However, given the fond affinity with which she speaks of her visits to county Galway, it’s clear that the teenager strongly identifies with her heritage.

“I still have family there now. It’s really fun to go visit, I feel the connection,” explained Charlotte when we met in the athlete’s canteen. “It is clear that the 18-year-old skier feels a deep-rooted affection for her ancestral home, brought out recently by a long overdue, pandemic delayed visit. “I hadn’t seen my cousins or my family in so long. The connection picked right back up, we hurled in the front yard, so that was really fun.”

Elizabeth Golding, Ireland’s first figure skater at an Olympic event, lives and trains in Dubai. Elizabeth is a well-rounded skater and puts an emphasis on style. “I love the spins we do but I have a love hate relationship with the jumps. They are great when they come off but falling hurts!” Without a doubt, Elizabeth is making history at these games. She is a trailblazer in her discipline and provides a positives role model for winter sport athletes in Ireland.

Despite having never met prior to the games the girls have bonded very quickly. In true Irish fashion they are well known around the athlete village as the life of the party. “Whoever was dancing with us at the opening ceremony, they were the best. Whoever joined our Tiktok, I think it was Iceland and Great Britan, they’re awesome,” Kailey informed us.

Charlotte is the team DJ, and the girls are really enjoying their time together. The girls are really making the most of their interactions with the other athletes. They all beamed when showing us the Olympic pins they have collected. “Israel’s is my favourite” explained Elizabeth.

The four girls and their families are all excited to fly back to Dublin after the games. They will certainly enjoy being back, feeling more Irish than ever after an unforgettable experience in Vuokatti.

Darragh Lyons and Padraig Faherty

21 March 2022; Team Ireland athletes, from left, Charlotte Turner, Megan Ryan, Elizabeth Golding and Kailey Murphy speaking to EYOF reporters Padraig Faherty and Darragh Lyons during day two of the 2022 European Youth Winter Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Elizabeth Golding has been named as the Team Ireland flagbearer for the Closing Ceremony of the European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland. The Dubai based athlete, with Dublin and Wicklow roots was the first ever figure skater to compete for Team Ireland in an Olympic event.

Throughout the event she performed strongly finishing with season best performances across the two days, signalling the arrival of Irish figure skating to a multi-sport event. Four Irish athletes competed in the EYOF which ran from the 20-25 March 2022.

Speaking on her selection Golding said,

“It was an honour to carry the flag for my country, and it was very exciting to walk into the arena and represent Ireland and skating.”

Team Ireland Chef de Mission for the event Linda O’Reilly was pleased with the performances of the athletes throughout this important development stage for young athletes,

“As the Games come to a close, it is great to be sharing the European stage with 45 other Nations and look forward to seeing the future career of these young athletes.  They are an inspiration to the youth to take part in sport.”

Full Results from the team in Vuokatti are:

Alpine Skiing – Girl’s Slalom

Overall:

44th Place Charlotte Turner (Ireland) +14.38

52nd Place Megan Ryan (Ireland) +22.44

53rd Place Kailey Murphy (Ireland) +23.96

Alpine Skiing – Girl’s Parallel Slalom Qualification

Overall:

40th Place Charlotte Turner (Ireland) +3.55

45th Place Megan Ryan (Ireland) +5.26

53rd Place Kailey Murphy (Ireland) +6.87

Figure Skating – Girl’s Short Programme

26th Elizabeth Golding – 32.41 (SB)

Figure Skating – Girl’s Free Skate

26th  Elizabeth Golding – 61.50 (SB). Overall score – 93.91 (SB)

On the final day of competition for Team Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland, Elizabeth Golding finished with another season best score in the Girl’s Figure Skating. Her score of 61.5 in today’s Free Skate event was added to yesterday’s short programme score of 32.41 to give her an overall of 93.91, over two points ahead of her previous best. Golding was the only Irish athlete in action today, on the final day of competition for Ireland at the EYOF which runs from the 20-25 March 2022.

In what was her long programme event, Golding danced to the song One Eye Open, by Lola Blanc, executing three moves successfully in succession that she had not previously mastered, and was pleased with her performance,

“I opened the routine with a double lutz, and I had two triple salchows in combination, and then I had in the rest of my programme two more spins and a flip toe lutz combination and a lutz toe combination. I managed to do all of them together and I'm really proud of that that. I managed to get through the whole programme without many mistakes. I only made one mistake in the spin, but I'm pretty proud of everything all together.”

Over the course of the event Golding has relished performing in front of a crowd,

 “It felt great because in the warmup I was having some issues and I felt some pain so I was kind of crying little bit and I heard a lot of people clapping and everything to support, so it felt really nice and like amazing that people were really out there to support me and stuff.”

This EYOF was the first time that Ireland had a figure skater competing in an Olympic event, and Golding’s first time competing in a multi-sport competition, after the competition she expressed her gratitude for competing in the event,

“I'm definitely going to remember this competition for the rest of my life, because this is probably the peak of my career right now! As a junior to be able to participate in such a big competition, I'm really thankful to the Ice Skating Association of Ireland, and Karen (O’ Sullivan – President) and everyone who really believed in me and helped me get to this competition and chose me to represent Ireland at such a big multisport event. I'm just speechless.”

This brings to a close Irish participation in the Winter EYOF in Vuokatti, Finland. Next up for Team Ireland is the summer EYOF in Slovakia in July.

24 March 2022 RESULTS:

Figure Skating – Girl’s Free Skate

TBD Elizabeth Golding – 61.50 (SB). Overall score – 93.91 (SB)

SECOND DAY OF ACTION FOR TEAM IRELAND AT THE EYOF IN VUOKATTI

Team Ireland’s Elizabeth Golding produced a season best in the junior women’s figure skating short programme at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland today. The 17-year-old is the first Irish figure skater to represent Ireland in an Olympic event, and finished with 32.41 in the event which will finish later this evening. The EYOF runs from the 20-25 March 2022.

Speaking after her competition Dubai based Golding was pleased to land her first combination setting her up for a season best performance,

“I loved it, I was really excited when I looked up and saw all the people watching and clapping and cheering it was just like really like a like an ego booster maybe. No I really enjoyed it even though I made snakes on the flying camel spin which I never usually do, I'll just take is as a life lesson and move forward with it and make sure it doesn't happen again.

“The first combination that Triple Salchow Double Toeloop, I’ve been having problems with it for a few months now, and I couldn’t do it when I put my music on. But thank God this time I did it and I did it in the most important place.”

In Alpine Skiing Charlotte Turner missed qualification for the finals in the Parallel slalom today by 1.50 seconds. Three Irish Alpine Skiers contested the exciting short race where athletes competed side by side with each other. The top thirty finishers move to the finals which take place next Friday, with Turner finishing in 40th place overall. Teammates Megan Ryan and Kailey Murphy were 45th and 53rd respectively in their final event of the Games.

This was the first time that these athletes competed in this type of event with Ryan saying,

“I’ve never skied anything like this before, so it’s pretty fun. It’s like they used giant slalom gates where they put them at the distance of a slalom course so it’s really fast and really quick. Both athletes start at the same time so it’s like you’re duelling someone and hope you beat them down. It was a lot of fun and I’ve never done anything like it.”

Turner added,

“We haven’t done Parallel slalom before so it was like a new mindset and just being open to the experience and not really thinking about results. Giorgio our coach gave great advice to try to ignore the person next to you as much as you can, so that was my goal and luckily I didn’t see her through the course so I just focused on myself.

“In my second run I came pretty close to not finishing I had some trouble in the last few gates but I was able to save it. It is a really difficult balance between control and risk but that’s what makes it fun and makes the sport competitive.”

Murphy relished the atmosphere and opportunity to be paired against teammate Ryan,  

“It was super fun and so cool to have Megan right there and it was great cheering on Charlotte at the start. I've never skied much like that, it was really cool. All the kids at the finish, it was really cute, you come through the finish and have a million high fives.”

Tomorrow Elizabeth Golding will close out the Irish participation in the EYOF, competing in the Girl’s Free Skating.

22 March 2022 RESULTS:

Alpine Skiing – Girl’s Parallel Slalom Qualification

Overall:

1st Beatrice Sola (Italy) 35.62

2nd Pauline Fischer (GER) +0.63

3rd Lara Klein (GER) +0.72

40th Place Charlotte Turner (Ireland) +3.55

45th Place Megan Ryan (Ireland) +5.26

53rd Place Kailey Murphy (Ireland) +6.87

Figure Skating – Girl’s Short Programme

TBD Elizabeth Golding – 32.41 (SB)

24 MARCH 2022 SCHEDULE (Irish Time):

16:00 Girl’s Free Skating

Elizabeth Golding

SECOND DAY OF ACTION FOR TEAM IRELAND AT THE EYOF IN VUOKATTI

Team Ireland’s Charlotte Turner missed qualification for the finals in the Parallel slalom today by 1.50 seconds. Three Irish Alpine Skiers contested the exciting short race where athletes competed side by side with each other. The top thirty finishers move to the finals which take place next Friday, with Turner finishing in 40th place overall. Teammates Megan Ryan and Kailey Murphy were 45th and 53rd respectively in the event at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland today. The EYOF runs from the 20-25 March 2022.

This was the first time that these athletes competed in this type of event with Ryan saying,

“I’ve never skied anything like this before, so it’s pretty fun. It’s like they used giant slalom gates where they put them at the distance of a slalom course so it’s really fast and really quick. Both athletes start at the same time so it’s like you’re duelling someone and hope you beat them down. It was a lot of fun and I’ve never done anything like it.”

Murphy took the opportunity to

“It was super fun and so cool to have Megan right there and it was great cheering on Charlotte at the start. I've never skied much like that, it was really cool. All the kids at the finish, it was really cute, you come through the finish and have a million high fives.”

Turner,

“We haven’t done Parallel slalom before so it was like a new mindset and just being open to the experience and not really thinking about results. Giorgio our coach gave great advice to try to ignore the person next to you as much as you can, so that was my goal and luckily I didn’t see her through the course so I just focused on myself.

In my second run I came pretty close to not finishing I had some trouble in the last few gates but I was able to save it. It is a really difficult balance between control and risk but that’s what makes it fun and makes the sport competitive.”

Later today figure skater Elizabeth Golding will make her debut in the Girl’s Short Programme.

22 March 2022 RESULTS:

Alpine Skiing – Girl’s Parallel Slalom Qualification

Overall:

1st Beatrice Sola (Italy) 35.62

2nd Pauline Fischer (GER) +0.63

3rd Lara Klein (GER) +0.72

40th Place Charlotte Turner (Ireland) +3.55

45th Place Megan Ryan (Ireland) +5.26

53rd Place Kailey Murphy (Ireland) +6.87

23 MARCH 2022 SCHEDULE (Irish Time):

16:30 Figure Skating – Girls Short Track Programme

Elizabeth Golding

FIRST DAY OF ACTION FOR TEAM IRELAND AT THE EYOF IN VUOKATTI

Team Ireland’s European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland began today with three Alpine Skiers competing in the Girl’s Slalom. The multi-sport event takes place every second year and marks a significant development stage for an athlete, with the competition simulating a senior Olympic Games. The EYOF runs from the 20-25 March 2022.

Today saw the three Irish female Alpine Skiers competing in the Girl’s Slalom. The slalom involves athletes competing over two runs, and all three racers finished higher than their starting position.

Charlotte Turner was the best of the Irish racers, finishing 44th in the event that was won by local talent Rosa Pohjolainen (Finland) in a combined time of 1:28.74. Megan Ryan was 52nd and Kailey Murphy was 53rd.

Speaking after her competition, Turner said,

“It was a really fun run. Coming out of the gates I had a very aggressive mentality because I knew the course was running well and my first round put me in a pretty good spot. I started off strong, unfortunately I did mess up a few gates and ended up having a push back in the course. It did cost me some significant time, but I felt the bottom half of the course I made up some of that mistake. Honestly, it’s just really fun and that’s what’s important so even with that mistake it was a great time.”

Ryan had a better race in her second run,

I think I just told myself in the second round to go at it. I didn't want to cross the finish line with any regrets thinking I could have done more so I tried to just get after it and put down a good run.”

Disappointed with her second run, Murphy drew on the positives from today’s event,

“My start was strong coming over the hill. I had quite a big mess up which set me back a lot, but I was able to recover which is good. I'm happy that I finished and just wish I had a little bit of a stronger finish.”

Speaking at the end of the first day of competition, Team Ireland Chef de Mission Linda O’Reilly said,

“It was great to see how positive the girls were after their first race. This is a great experience for the athletes. They get to see all the elements that are involved in Olympic Games, such as the preparation areas, the mixed zone, media interviews and the overall Team Ireland and Games culture. Games like the EYOF are how they get this experience.”

Tomorrow will see all athletes in action with the three skiers competing in the Parallel Slalom in the morning and figure skater Elizabeth Golding will make her debut in the Girl’s Short Programme later in the day.

22 March 2022 RESULTS:

Alpine Skiing – Girl’s Slalom

Overall:

Gold Rosa Pohjolainen (Finland) 1:28.74

Silver Emilia Mondinelli (Italy) +1.19

Bronze Victoria Olivier (Austria) +1.27

44th Place Charlotte Turner (Ireland) +14.38

52nd Place Megan Ryan (Ireland) +22.44

53rd Place Kailey Murphy (Ireland) +23.96

23 MARCH 2022 SCHEDULE (Irish Time):

09:00 Parallel Slalom – Girls Qualification

Kailey Murphy, Megan Ryan, Charlotte Turner

16:30 Figure Skating – Girls Short Track Programme

Elizabeth Golding

Competition begins with the Girl’s Slalom on Tuesday

Competition for Team Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland is to begin tomorrow, Tuesday 22 March, with three athletes competing in the Girl’s Slalom. The EYOF is a significant event in the development of athletes, as it simulates an Olympic competition in a multi-sport environment. The event is held every two years and is run by the European Olympic Committees (EOC), with this years event running from the 20-25 March.

Tomorrow’s competition will see three female athletes compete in the Girl’s Slalom starting at noon Irish time for the first run, the second run is at 14:00 Irish time. The three athletes are Kailey Murphy, whose father is from Dublin, and whose sister Elle competed in the EYOF in Sarajevo in 2019. Megan Ryan also is the sister of two Irish skiers, Matt Ryan and Emma Ryan, and her father is from Dublin and mother from Roscommon. Charlotte Turner will also be in competition, with paternal grandparents from Galway and Cork.

Speaking ahead of the competition Ryan added, “The hill is pretty small compared to some of the mountains we are used to skiing in back in the US, but it’s really cool, we have Slopestyle right next to us so it’s cool that we get to see all the events in such a closed space.”

Describing what is a compact slalom run Murphy said, “It’s pretty quick, it should be about a minute course and I’m super excited to see the top racers, I think it will be pretty cool to see them in the Beijing 2022 suits too!”  Alpine Skier Turner said, “It’s been really fun so far, the girls have gotten close fast and the snow is really good.”

Charlotte Turner of Team Ireland during an Alpine Skiing practice session

For Ireland’s first figure skater, another day of training stands between Elizabeth Golding and her first competition of two, the Girl’s Short Programme,

“It’s so nice to know that you are the first person to ever do this. I expect to have fun out there. I have a short programme and a long programme. In my short programme it’s a lot of fun music so I expect to be having fun, and the second programme is more serious. I’m hoping to do everything cleanly and just go out and have fun and look nice and everything.”

22 March 2022 SCHEDULE:

Alpine Skiing – Girl’s Slalom

Run One 12:00 Irish time

Kailey Murphy

Megan Ryan

Charlotte Turner

Run One 14:00 Irish time

TBC

MEGAN RYAN NAMED AS TEAM IRELAND FLAGBEARER IN CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE EYOF IN VUOKATTI, FINLAND

Four Athletes to Compete in Multi-Sport Winter Event

Alpine Skier Megan Ryan will carry the flag for Team Ireland at the Opening Ceremony of the European Olympic Youth Festival (EYOF) in Vuokatti, Finland tonight, 20 March 2022, at 6pm Irish time. Ryan is one of four athletes across Alpine Skiing and Figure Skating who will compete as part of Team Ireland in the EYOF which runs from the 20-25 March. The EYOF is a multi-sport event aimed at athletes aged 14-18 years of age, that is held every two years and is run by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) under the patronage of the IOC.

Ryan, whose brother Matt competed in the previous edition of the EYOF in Sarajevo in 2019, is one of three athletes competing in the girl’s slalom, and who is based in the USA where she attends a ski academy. Speaking on her selection as flagbearer the 18-year-old said,

“I’m so honoured to be chosen as the flagbearer, I’ve never done anything like this. I’m super excited to get out there and hold the flag for everyone to see. I think it’s going to be incredible. As a team we didn’t know each other before this, but we have gotten really close really quickly, and it’s an awesome group of girls we have so I think it’s going to be amazing to walk out in front everyone.”

Chef de Mission for Team Ireland Linda O’Reilly is looking forward to the start of the winter event,

“This is a very important event because it is the first time that these athletes will be taking part in a multi-sport competition, so we are excited to get underway with the opening ceremony tonight. In these kind of events the athletes learn to come together as a team in what is basically a mini Olympics, so it’s great for them and also it serves as a very important development element in their sporting pathway. With Covid this event has been postponed twice already so it’s really great that we are all here together now with all the other nations. We have three girls in Alpine Skiing and for the first time a figure skater, all the athletes are rooting for each other and get on great!”

Alpine Skiing – Girl’s Slalom

Kailey Murphy – Lives in USA, father from Dublin. Her sister Elle competed in the EYOF in Sarajevo 2019.

Megan Ryan – Lives in USA, father from Dublin, mother from Roscommon. Her brother Matt competed in the EYOF in Sarajevo 2019 and the Youth Olympics in Lausanne 2020. Her sister Emma was on the long list for Beijing 2022.

Charlotte Turner – Lives in USA, paternal grandparents from Galway and Cork

Figure Skating

Elizabeth Golding – Lives in Dubai, father from Dublin, grandmother lives in Bray

Originally known as the European Youth Olympic Days, the event has been running since 1993, with the summer edition occurring since 1991.

Schedule:

Sunday 20 March – 18:00 Irish time:

20:00 local time Opening Ceremony

Tuesday 22 March – from 08:00 Irish time:

10:00 local time – Alpine Skiing - Girls Slalom

Wednesday 23 March – from 16:30 Irish time:

18:30 local time – Figure Skating – Girls Short Programme

Thursday 24 March – from 16:00 Irish time:

18:00 local time – Figure Skating – Girls Free Skating

Friday 25 March:

Closing Ceremony

FOUR TEAM IRELAND ATHLETES TO COMPETE IN THE EUROPEAN YOUTH OLYMPIC FESTIVAL IN VUOKATTI, FINLAND

The Winter European Youth Olympic Festival Set for Team Ireland Figure Skating Debut

8 March 2022

Four athletes across Alpine Skiing and Figure Skating will compete as part of Team Ireland in the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Vuokatti, Finland, which runs from the 20-25 March. The EYOF is a multi-sport event aimed at athletes aged 14-18 years of age, that is held every two years and is run by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) under the patronage of the IOC.

In a fitting nod to International Women’s Day the all-female team that will be participating in the EYOF are as follows:

Alpine Skiing

Kailey Murphy

Megan Ryan

Charlotte Turner

Figure Skating

Elizabeth Golding

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.  Chef de Mission for this youth event is Linda O’Reilly, who is also the Operations Manager in the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

Schedule:

Sunday 20 March:

Opening Ceremony

Tuesday 22 March:

10:00 local time – Alpine Skiing - Girls Slalom

Wednesday 23 March:

18:30 local time – Figure Skating – Girls Short Programme

Thursday 24 March:

18:00 local time – Figure Skating – Girls Free Skating

Friday 25 March:

Closing Ceremony

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.

To protect the safety of participants while ensuring that all the best athletes are able to compete, the European Olympic Committees (EOC) yesterday decided in cooperation with the Finnish Olympic Committee and local organisers that the winter edition of the 2021 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) would be rescheduled to March 2022.

The decision comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the European continent, while a three-month delay will also allow for more optimal snow conditions in the north of Finland, thereby providing the best possible platform for ski and snowboard athletes. The delay will also help the hosts save on snow-making costs.

The new dates for the continent’s leading multi-sport event for athletes aged 14-18 are 20-25 March.

In a unique, one-off decision, it was agreed that the boy’s ice hockey tournament will take place in December as originally planned to allow the best players from Europe to take part in the event. All other sports, including girl’s ice hockey, will be rescheduled for March.

All efforts will be made to help link the boy’s ice hockey tournament in December with the other events in March 2022, including the organisation of an EOC Chef de Missions Seminar during the December tournament and other measures.

Some 1,800 athletes from 48 European National Olympic Committees are expected to take part in nine sports disciplines at the Vuokatti EYOF. The sports programme will feature alpine skiing, biathlon, ice hockey, snowboarding, cross country skiing, ski jumping, short track, figure skating and Nordic combined.

Thanks to the inclusion of girls’ ice hockey, Vuokatti will be the most gender-balanced in the event’s history.

The urban area of Vuokatti, in the municipality of Sotkamo, will host alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, figure skating, short track and snowboarding. The city of Kajaani will host the ice hockey events

The winter edition of the 2021 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) has been postponed from February to December to safeguard all those involved in the event – in particular the young athletes – during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The European Olympic Committees (EOC) agreed to the decision today together with the local organisers of the Vuokatti 2021 EYOF. The new dates for the continent’s leading multi-sport event for athletes aged 14-18 are 11-18 December.

“This was by no means an easy decision to take,” said EOC Acting President Niels Nygaard. “For many months now we had hoped against hope that the pandemic would improve enough to safely host Vuokatti 2021 on schedule. Sadly, it was not to be, but postponing the EYOF to December means that the vast majority of the athletes who were looking forward to competing in February will still be able to participate later in the year.”


Some 1,800 athletes from 48 European National Olympic Committees were expected to take part in nine sports disciplines from 6-13 February next year prior to the postponement. On the sports programme are alpine skiing, biathlon, ice hockey, snowboarding, cross country skiing, ski jumping, short track, figure skating and Nordic combined. With the inclusion of girls’ ice hockey, Vuokatti stands poised to become the most gender-balanced in the event’s history.

“Flexibility will be the key,” said EOC Secretary General Raffaele Pagnozzi. “Rest assured that we will do all we can for the competitors affected, and I am sure that, together with our partners, we will organise a fantastic European Youth Olympic Festival for Finland and for all the young athletes of Europe.”

EOC Sports Director Peter Brüll is in full contact with the International Federations. “Together with the IFs, we are now discussing possible adaptations of the sports programme,” Brüll said.

As the number of new COVID-19 cases edges ever closer to its spring peak in Europe and with no end to the pandemic in sight, it was agreed that the best solution would be to reschedule the event.

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation does not allow for the EYOF to be held as planned,” said Mikko Salonen, CEO of the Finnish Olympic Committee. “The most important thing for us is to ensure the safety of the young athletes, and that is not yet possible in February 2021.”

Chair of the Local Organising Committee and Mayor of Sotkamo, Mika Kilpeläinen, added that various contingency plans had already been planned for in Kainuu, the region where the competitions were set to take place, at the onset of the pandemic earlier this year. In the end, however, Kilpeläinen said the rescheduling of the EYOF was the only way forward.

“We want to be responsible and act with health in mind,” he said. “Therefore, postponing the event is the only solution. The timing will bring its own challenges to the arrangements, but our promise continues, and we will prepare with the same determination and commitment as earlier. Our goal is to host the best EYOF event of all time here in Vuokatti and Kajaani.”

The urban area of Vuokatti, in the municipality of Sotkamo, will host alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, figure skating, short track and snowboarding. The city of Kajaani will host the ice hockey events.

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