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The 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games Opens in Norway

Special sports dispatch of Xinhua News Agency, February 12,Lillehammer, Norway - On the evening of the 12th, the Olympic cauldronwas lit up again after laying dormant for a whole 22 years next to the skijumping venue of the Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games, marking the officialstart of the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games.

The 12-year-old Princess Ingrid,daughter of Crown Prince of Norway, picked up “the last baton” from Bjorgen — winnerof 10 Olympic medals for cross-country skiing — climbed up the stairs next tothe cauldron in exactly the same way as the last torch bearer 22 years ago,igniting the main torch of the Winter Youth Olympic Games that is to stayenflamed for 10 days.

And it was Crown Prince Haakon, fatherof Ingrid, who had the same honor of igniting the Olympic flame at the Opening Ceremonyof the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games.

Zhu Zhenyu, flagbearer of the Chinese delegation, waving Chinese national flag at the Opening Ceremony.

The same Olympic emotions are echoedacross different generations. 22 years ago, the Chinese delegation — competingonly for the fifth time — attended the Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer thatserved as a transition from the past into the future. Since securing the veryfirst Olympic medal in Albertville of France in 1992, the athletes went on toreceive one silver and two bronze medals for short track and speed skating. 22years later, the Chinese Winter Olympics delegation keeps narrowing the gapwith traditional powerhouses in ice and snow sports. Yang Yang, Han Xiaopeng,Wang Meng, Shen Xue/Zhao Hongbo, Zhang Hong…the names of gold medalists echothe perseverant steps of China in the journey of winter Olympic sports. Whenthe 16-year-old Zhu Zhenyu, the biathlon athlete, stepped onto the stage ofLillehammer Winter Youth Olympic Games waving the Chinese national flag, behindthe 23 young Chinese athletes, the world’s attention was directed at Beijing,together with Zhangjiakou, for the right to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Gamesand the anticipation of 1.3 billion Chinese people for the seemingly foreignyet all-so-familiar winter sports.

Compared with Innsbruck four years back,the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games in the “Internet+” era has undergonea transformation, much like the rapidly evolving world. Thomas Bach, Presidentof the IOC, came to the stage in Lillehammer to address the upcoming 2ndWinter Youth Olympic Games. The 62-year-old German joked about how he was “abit too old to compete”, before urging the athletes, members of the audience,media professionals and volunteers watching to “add the “I love Youth Olympics”hash tag when twitting.

Regardless of how times change, sportsprofessionals live by a spirit that remains constant, and its name is“Olympiad”. When Kim Yu-Na, gold medalist for women’s single skating at the2010 Olympic Winter Games, and Bjorn Daehlie, eight-time cross-country skiinggold medalist, and four other “veteran” Olympic athletes, handed over theOlympic flag to the six representatives of the younger generation, the Olympicvalues have in essence been passed down, symbolically.

In the 10 days of the Games — from the12th to the 21st — about 1,100 “future leaders” agedbetween 14 and 18 from 71 countries and territories are to compete in 70 eventsunder 15 disciplines of 7 sports, under the glory of the Olympic flame. 23athletes from the Chinese delegation will appear in 28 events of 7 disciplines under4 sports.

For many of them, a lot could happen inthe 10 days — new friendship, new experiment, new perception, and growing-up.They may potentially even find a new direction for life through communicatingwith new people and contemplating things from a new angle. It is precisely asthe slogan of this year’s Winter Youth Olympic Games goes — “transcend thisvery moment, shape the future”.

On December 12, 2008, Jacques Rogge, formerPresident of the IOC, announced at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne thatInnsbruck of Austria had won the right to host the first Winter Youth OlympicGames in 2012. About 1,000 athletes who were aged between 14 and 18 attendedthe first Winter Youth Olympic Games. The Games included seven sports such as figureskating, skiing, ice hockey, biathlon, curling and luge, identical to the 2010Olympic Winter Games held in Vancouver, Canada.

The 3rd Winter Youth OlympicGames are to take place in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2020.

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