Once it was the capital of the Tyrol, now it is naming itself the capital of the Alps. Innsbruck will host its third Olympics, the first ever Youth Olympic Winter Games from 13 to 22 January 2012.
The Olympic flame will once again burn brightly in Innsbruck’s Bergisel ski jump stadium, thus marking a world record for being the first city to host Olympic Games (summer or winter) on three occasions. The resort is now preparing for this historic event.
Young elite athletes from all over the world will meet in Singapore next month for the Summer Games (14 to 26 August), before over 1,000 athletes aged between 14 and 18 will compete against each other in Innsbruck across a range of disciplines including biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, figure skating and dowenhill skiing. The only difference to the regular Olympic Winter Games 2010 in Vancouver will be the reduced number of disciplines and competitions.
The goal for the Youth Olympics is to introduce young athletes to the Olympic spirit, to provide them with a public arena to showcase their talents, but most of all to allow the young competitors an opportunity to establish friendly relations between different nations. Innsbruck was successful in its bid to host the event, beating bids from Kuopio (Finland), Harbin (China) and Lillehammer (Norway), primarily due to its experience in hosting major sporting events, among them the Winter Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976.
There’s an abundance of fully operational sporting arenas already here with many of them having only recently been renovated and upgraded. One of them is the famous Olympic bobsled track which was created in 1976, introducing to the world the first combined artificial ice track, on which all bobsled, luge and skeleton competitions could be held. The construction of an Olympic Village is currently underway, and organisers are busily planning a number of accompanying events, focusing on cultural aspects favoured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).