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First-timers pumped and ready

9 January 2012

Australia’s Winter Youth Olympic Team arrived in Innsbruck, Austria from places as varied as Colorado, Townsville and the Italian slopes. Their final destination: the Youth Olympic Village, home to 1,059 athletes from over 60 countries for the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games.

The excitement was infectious for the Aussie athletes aged 16-18 as they settled into Innsbruck. There was the sight of powdery snow, the first signs of foreign life in the Village, and of course the Tour de Force- receiving the official Australian Winter Youth Olympic Team uniform.

For many of Australia’s 13 athletes, this marks the first time they are part of a team environment. With Chef de Mission Alisa Camplin at the help, the multisport environment of the Winter Youth Olympics represents an unparalleled springboard for Australia’s future stars to compete side by side.

Cross country skier Lucy Glanville arrived at the Uniform Distribution Centre from Italy where she endured a tough training block with Olympic cross country coach Nick Almoukov. The long sessions seemed overwhelmingly worthwhile when an ecstatic Glanville put on her Team uniform in Austria.

“It’s my first Australian Team uniform ever and it feels so incredible! It’s very much like the Olympic uniform from 2010 in Vancouver so it’s really exciting to have it!” Glanville said.

The Sydneysider’s roommate in the Youth Olympic Village, alpine skier Greta Small echoed her feelings.

“It means a lot to me because this is actually my first Australian uniform so this is really, really nice for me to have this- I’ll keep this uniform forever!” said Small who moved to Austria months ago to begin preparing for the Games.

The Aussie athletes received what Small dubbed “the biggest suitcase I’ve ever owned” filled with green and white snow gear- competition wear, snow pants and jackets to wear to the Opening Ceremony, beanies, scarves, boots and many layers of green and white warmth!

Biathlete Lachlan Porter was stoked to finally have his Team gear on.

“It’s so exciting and it all looks good!” he said.

But despite the “awesome” rating given to the uniform by our athletes, the overstuffed suitcases symbolised more than simply being the best-dressed Team in the Village.

Australia’s 13 athletes have dreamt about the ten days of competition starting on January 13. They have trained for the big event and they are overflowing with potential.

“It’s so crazy to have been dreaming of this for the past four years since I heard about the YOG. To finally be here is really, really cool!” Small said.

Ski cross athletes Claudia Leggett and Jack Millar have been training at their peak in Austria with their coach Shawn Fleming and are on track for personal bests when competition begins.

“It’s really exciting because I’ve been thinking of this for so many months,” Queenslander Leggett said.

Millar, who hails from Wollongong, has been abroad for months and is brimming for the contest.

“It’s a bit of an overwhelming day to be honest- there’s so much going on in such a small space of time, but I can’t wait to get started competing,” Millar said.

For snowboarder Alex Fitch who travelled from Colorado (USA), the excitement was too much and she needed a nap before launching into uniforming.

Back on deck, “Fitchy” tried on a uniform not dissimilar to the one Torah Bright won gold in at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and declared her new tricks are ready for the start of competition.

“It’s pretty exciting and it’s so good to get all the Australian gear on!” Fitch said.

Olympians often say there is nothing like competing in the green and gold. For these young Aussies experiencing it for the first time, these ten days of competition are set to be explosive.

The inaugural Winter Youth Olympics will be held from January 13-22. Follow all of the action at Olympics.com.au/innsbruck2012

Taya Conomos
Australian Olympic Committee

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