OUT OF THE GATE
The Other 2012 Olympics
A miniscule U.S. contingent will travel to Innsbruck for first-
ever winter Youth Olympic Games. BY HANK MCKEE
The first winter Youth Olympic Games are
scheduled for January 13-22, 2012, in Inns-
bruck, Austria. Who will be representing the
U.S. is still a question, but we know one thing:
it’s going to be a small team.
The Youth Olympic Games movement is in
its infancy — the first Games were held this
summer in Singapore, and the first winter ver-
sion is set for Innsbruck. The site is ready, ac-
cording to FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper,
and this an instrumental part of getting the
event off the ground in the first place.
“Preparations, such as the construction of
the new Olympic Village, have been carried
out perfectly,” he said after a site inspection
last month. “The FIS is very optimistic that
everything will go well.”
The U.S. criteria for making it to the event:
have the right birth date (between January
1995 and December 1996) and, in the case
of alpine racers, have the best point profile.
There is one sticking point.
“Unfortunately the quotas are based on
Hodler Cup points, and we will only have one
male and one female,” said USSA Develop-
ment Director Walt Evans.
The Hodler Cup is a point system from World
Junior Championships. It was not a good year
at World Juniors, and the U.S. ranked 10th
among the 14 teams that scored points at all.
The only podium result came from Mikaela
Shiffrin, and barring any major setback, we
can pretty much count on her representing
the women’s half of this equation. The men’s
side is a broader question, but selections
don’t have to be made until next Novem-
ber, so there’s no pressure for a premature
According to the selection criteria documen-
tation the choice will be the skier with the low-
est USSA points from two of three (slalom,
giant slalom and super G) disciplines.
Perhaps of more concern is the reason for
having these Games at all. “Unfortunately,
we have had to realize that young people’s
interest in winter sports is declining and that
fewer and fewer parents spend the free time
with their children in the snow,” said Kasper,
adding he expected taht the Winter Youth
Olympic Games will help counter this devel-
That may explain the new-school approach
to freestyle in the Youth Olympic Games,
where the standard disciplines of moguls and
aerials will not be held, but ski cross and half-
pipe will. Again, the participation is limited,
and the U.S. quota is one per gender.
The nordic disciplines are similarly limited
in team size, also based on World Junior re-
STEVE HILTS/ FRESHSHOTS.CA
SkiRacing.com MARCH 17, 2011 | 7