Ireland’s Florence Bell at Youth Winter Olympics

Updated: January 10, 2012

National flags appeared at the windows of the Olympic Village apartments on Monday morning, marking the arrival of the first teams to compete at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

From 13 to 22 January 2012 Innsbruck and Seefeld will play host to the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games, which will see 1,058 athletes aged 14 to 18 from over 70 nations compete in 63 sporting competitions and, together with youngsters from the local region, take part in a one-of-a-kind Culture & Education Programme. The idea behind this mixture of sport and culture is to support young people in their personal and sporting development and to raise their interest in the Olympic Values.

Delegations from Australia, Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Iran, New Zealand and Ukraine were among the earliest to step into the 11 apartment blocks situated in the north-east of the city.

“We expect 600 athletes will have arrived before tonight,” Rosie Pili, head of International Client Services, said. “There will be a total of 1400 residents here as the Games start. Around 500 will reach Innsbruck on Tuesday and the rest will get here on Wednesday.”

For some, the trip was longer than expected. “The Brenner pass is closed and there have been disruptions on the way from Switzerland, so we had to tell the French team to pass through Germany,” Pili said.

The Chinese team were the first to make it to the Village at 08:20, and soon gave their home for the next two weeks a glowing report.

“The village looks really comfortable, the rooms are clean and everything seems to work well,” media officer Wang Kan said.

Ireland will be represented at the first Winter YOG by 15 yrs old Florence Bell, from Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham who has previously represented Great Britain in International Youth events .
Florence will be travelling to the Winter Games in Innsbruck this week to take part in the Alpine Skiing – Slalolm and Giant Slalom events on 18th and 20th January – she will be accompanied by her Coach – Lynn Sharp. Jim Devlin is Ireland’s Chef de Mission.

Here Florence tells us a little about herself and her future hopes:

“Born on March 5th 1996 in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham (a place more well known for its chocolate than its mountains!) I took to the nursery slopes of Obergurgl in Austria for the first time at Christmas/New Year 1998/9.

As I enter into FIS racing, I am really looking forward to representing Ireland for the rest of my ski racing career which began in New Zealand and Australia in August 2011. Racing in Treblecone, Coronet Peak, Cardrona, Thredbo and Mount Hutt I had 8 top 15 finishes and earned my first FIS points in Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G.

I am thrilled and very honoured to have been selected to represent Ireland at the first ever World Youth Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria in January 2012. I will be the only athlete of either gender in any winter sport at these Games which makes my selection even more special. I hope to ski well and that I will make my family, myself and Ireland proud” .

Slalom skiing, for example, demands a great deal of acrobatic skill, forcing racers to perform tight, controlled turns on mostly steep terrain. The Giant Slalom is probably one of the most difficult technical events in alpine skiing, with the gates spaced further apart than in Slalom. Just as in Slalom, each skier competing in Giant Slalom completes two runs on two different courses on the same slope and on the same day.

The winner is the skier with the fastest total time. Super-G (short for Super Giant Slalom) combines the speed of Downhill with the more precise turns demanded of skiers competing in Giant Slalom and requires a lot of courage from the athletes to find the right line and push themselves to the limit without a training run.

In Super-G, skiers have just one shot at winning the race. Combined races consist of one Super-G run and one Slalom run, meaning athletes must be able to switch from the high-speed challenge of Super-G to the tight, technical turns of Slalom.

The racer with the fastest total time over the two runs is the winner. In the Parallel Team Event, two male and and two female skiers from the same country join forces to take on their opponents in head-to-head duels.

We would like to wish Florence and coach Lynn Sharp every success at these Games. Here is the competition schedule:-

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