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Having hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 and 1976, Innsbruck will once again welcome the world's best athletes as the host city of the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012, writes Florian KoglerSpirit of YouthINNSBRUCK 201256OLYMPIC REVIEW

OLYMPIC REVIEW57hen the 21 Austrian medallists returnedfrom the recent Vancouver OlympicWinter Games, their welcome receptionwasn't held in the capital Vienna. Instead, they went500km west to Innsbruck, where they werewelcomed enthusiastically by thousands of fans. Having hosted the Olympic Winter Games twice, it made sense in January 2008, that the AustrianOlympic Committee asked Innsbruck to bid for theYouth Olympic Games. "Everybody in Innsbruck isexcited and ready for an unforgettable Winter YouthOlympic Games", says Peter Bayer, CEO of theOrganising Committee. Back in 2008, when preparing the bid, the city'smajor advantage was its existing venues. Innsbruckoffers a two-cluster concept with the only venues yet to be built being those for biathlon and curling,which will be temporary for the Games. There will be six venues: five of them in Innsbruckand one in the the Seefeld arena, some 30 minutesaway, which will be home to all the Nordiccompetitions including biathlon as well as ski crossand snowboard cross. To the north of Innsbruck, nearly 2000m abovesea level, the Nordkette will be the scene of thesnowboard and freestyle skiing competitions. TheInnsbruck Congress Centre is where the Culture andEducation Programme (CEP) activities will be held. Aprogramme that seeks to promote the Olympic valuesof excellence, friendship and respect not only to theathletes, but also to the youth of Austria and youngpeople around the world. Further north lies the construction site for theYouth Olympic Village (YOV), which is, according toPeter Bayer, "a showcase project for the wholeregion." Built on the former site of military barracks,"Everybody in Innsbruckis excited and ready for anunforgettable WinterYouth Olympic Games"Peter BayerCEO, Organising Committeethe 13 cube-shaped tenements will contain 444apartments, which will be used for the 1,657 athletesand officials. After the Games, the apartments will beavailable to the local population. The ice competitionsand Closing Ceremony will take place in theOlympiaworld Innsbruck, situated south of the YOV. On the outskirts of town, the luge track in Igls and theskiing slopes on Patscherkofel Mountain already have an Olympic history. The Opening Ceremony will be held at the BergIsel - a venue that Bayer knows well; for severalyears now he has been organising the "Air and Style"Snowboard and music festival there. "We have plenty of ideas for the OpeningCeremony,"he says. "The programme will be asurprise, of course, but what I can reveal is that it willbe a journey from 1964 and 1976 through to 2012and the future."As preparations started to gather pace, theInnsbruck 2012 emblem was launched in Vancouverduring the 2010 Winter Games at a Youth OlympicGames Night at Austria House in Whistler, Canada.Gian-Franco Kasper, IOC Coordination CommissionChairman for Innsbruck 2012 and FIS President, said, "The Innsbruck 2012 emblem is a reflection of Innsbruck's history, region and nation and itsymbolises the journey to the first Winter YouthOlympic Games. It is a youthful emblem and a strikingidentity to be used by the Innsbruck Youth OlympicGames Organising Committee to reach out to youngpeople around the world."Double Olympic gold medal winner and memberof the IOC Coordination Commission for Innsbruck2012 Pernilla Wiberg recalled her trip as a 15-year-old to the World Skiing Youth Championships and howit left a memorable imprint in her life."That was amazing, but if I had the chance to goto the Youth Olympic Games - wow - that would havebeen the biggest goal for me," she said.Gian-Franco Kasper concludes: "Innsbruck means, 'Bridge over the Inn'. We want to build bridgeswith the Youth Olympic Games as well. Bridgesbetween the past and the future, bridges betweengenerations - just like bridges between sport, culture and education." ?INNSBRUCK 2012