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hile Innsbruck 2012 will feature thesame seven sports that will make up the2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, itwill also boast a number of innovativeevents that currently only feature on theprogramme of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Of the63 events that will be contested in biathlon, bobsleigh,curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing at the firstedition of the Winter YOG, many will be taking place forthe first time at an Olympic event. Women's skijumping, ski halfpipe and snowboard slopestyle havenever been held in an Olympic arena before. Inaddition, there will be a number of innovative events,found only at the YOG, which feature unique formatssuch as mixed gender competitions and teamscomprising athletes from different NOCs.Gian-Franco Kasper, Chairman of the IOCCoordination Committee for the 1st Winter OlympicYouth Games, is excited by the sports programme andpleased that sports are reaching out to young people in new ways."The new events show a genuine effort fromInternational Federations to adapt to young athletes'interests," he explains. "The Youth Olympic Games area great way for them to showcase new events and see how they work in an Olympic environment. Thegoal is to attract young people and encourage them toget involved in sport. The mixed gender and NOCevents are particularly interesting for them as they areasked to compete with and against different peoplethan they are used to. This is a great cultural andeducational lesson!"32OLYMPIC REVIEWWWE TAKE A LOOK AT THE SPORTS PROGRAMME FOR INNSBRUCK 2012, WHICH WILL SEE INNOVATIVE NEW FORMATSJOIN TRADITIONAL DISCIPLINES, AS YOUNGMEN AND WOMEN - AND EVEN DIFFERENTNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEES (NOC) -COMPETE ALONGSIDE EACH OTHER FORYOUTH OLYMPIC MEDALSBE AGOODSPORT

OLYMPIC REVIEW33LeftEach of the sevenWinter Olympicsports, includingcurling and skiing,are included on the Innsbruckprogramme RightIce hockey willfeature anexciting skillschallenge inaddition to the main men'sand women'stournaments In addition to the introduction of ski halfpipe,snowboard slopestyle and women's ski jumping,Innsbruck 2012 will play host to a number of othernew events and formats. In biathlon, there will be amixed relay, while there will also be a new mixed teamrelay that combines cross-country skiing and biathlon.This will be the first time that the two sports havecome together in international competition and willcombine cross-country skiing with rifle marksmanship.The relay teams will consist of four athletes - onewoman and one man from biathlon and one womanand one man from cross-country skiing.Elsewhere on the sports programme for Innsbruck2012, alpine skiing will see the introduction of amixed parallel team event, which features teams oftwo women and two men racing their opponents inhead-to-head duels.Curling will feature a mixed doubles tournament,with one woman and one man from different NOCsplaying together in a team, as well as a mixed teamcompetition, with two men and two women from thesame NOC. Figure skating will also introduce a mixed NOCteam event, featuring one woman, one man, one pair and one ice dance couple, all from differentNOCs. In addition to the five-team ice hockeytournaments for men and women, there will be askills challenge for athletes from countries that do notqualify for the main competition, with the InternationalIce Hockey Federation (IIHF) devising a globalqualification system based on a series of nationalskills tests to determine the 15 men and 15 womenwho will take part.The luge programme, meanwhile, will feature amixed team relay event with teams formed of onewoman, one man and one double, all from the sameNOC. There will also be a mixed NOC relay in shorttrack speed skating, where teams consist of twowomen and two men, while a mass start event hasbeen added to the speed skating programme.With so many new events and disciplines makingtheir Youth Olympic debut, the anticipation buildingahead of Innsbruck 2012 is infectious. Peter Bayer, CEO of Innsbruck 2012, says that heis eagerly awaiting the chance to see athletes fromdifferent NOCs competing alongside each other. "You have kids from different countries competingtogether and they have to talk about their strategy, sothere might be language barriers, or cultural andreligious barriers, but whatever obstacles exist in thereal world, they don't exist when athletes cometogether like that." n