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Winter EYOF 2009: the flame is lit


The torch for the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), which will be taking place in less than two weeks at Śląsk Beskidy, in Poland, was lit yesterday from The Olympic Museum cauldron in Lausanne. The flame was immediately passed by European Olympic Committees (EOC) Vice President Alexander Kozlovsky to the President of the Polish Olympic Committee, Piotr Nurowski, in the presence of IOC President Jacques Rogge.
From 15 to 20 February 2009, this Polish skiing region will be hosting almost 1,000 young European athletes for a unique experience in an Olympic atmosphere, like the champions they watch on television and dream of copying. This exceptional launch pad for the champions of tomorrow is being organised under the auspices of the EOC and IOC.

With tomorrow’s champions
These young athletes aged from 15 to 18, representing 49 EOC-member countries, will be competing for a place on the podium in nine Olympic sports and disciplines: ice hockey, figure skating, Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, curling, biathlon and snowboarding. The Festival will be the chance for some of these youngsters to produce their first top performances and envisage continuing their experience at a higher level – perhaps next year at the Winter Games in Vancouver, on in 2014 in Sochi. And why not at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 in Innsbruck? In doing so, they will be following in the footsteps of numerous international stars who first shone at the WEYOF before going on to greatness at the Olympic Games. Examples include tennis player Justine Henin, Olympic champion in Athens, or skiers Anja Paerson (Olympic champion in Turin) and Janica Kostelic (four times Olympic champion – three gold medals in Salt Lake City and one in Turin), and her brother Ivica (silver medallist in Turin).

Sport and culture on the programme
While this Festival will enable thousands of young athletes to compare their talents and performances and thereby discover the tough requirements of high-level international competition, it will also be a chance to share an unforgettable cultural and educational experience, raising awareness of the values and ideals of sport. Not forgetting the fact that such a Festival encourages other young people to practise sport.

A presidential initiative
Organised every two years, summer and winter, this large-scale event was created on the initiative of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee, whose President at the time was Jacques Rogge, who was also EOC President. That was in 1991. Sixteen years later, the Youth Olympic Games project was launched.


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