Olympic champion skier Lindsey Vonn has today been announced as the first Winter Youth Olympic Games Ambassador. One of the most successful Alpine skiers of all time, the American star, who has been hitting the slopes since she was two years old, will take a leading role in mentoring young athletes at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, in January 2012. Now 26, Lindsey, who overcame injury to win Olympic gold in the Women’s Downhill at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, understands the importance of having a strong role model to look up to. Recalling a memorable experience in her career, she says: "When I first met my hero, Picabo Street, it was a huge thrill and an unforgettable moment for me. She inspired me to become what I am today. If I can have half that effect on some of the young athletes I come into contact with, it will be worth it. I’m really looking forward to it". Lindsey’s appointment follows the success of the Summer Youth Olympic Games Ambassadors Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva and Michael Phelps. From 13 to 22 January 2012 Innsbruck and Seefeld will 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. Following the Winter Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976, the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will give Innsbruck and Seefeld the chance to welcome the Olympic Family for a third time. The programme of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will be established on the basis of the seven sports included in the Vancouver 2010 programme (Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating and Skiing).
As well as the sports competitions, athletes will also participate in a Culture & Education Programme (CEP) designed to raise participants’ awareness of the Olympic Values and address topics including Olympism, skills development, well-being & healthy living, social responsibility and expression through digital media. With youngsters from the local region also invited to be a part of this range of cultural initiatives, the CEP is set to be the platform for intercultural exchange, transforming the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games into a unique festival of sport and culture.