These famous athletes got their start at the Youth Olympic Games

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-01-07 12:59

Memorable names include Kasperi Kapanen and Chloe Kim

When snowboarder Chloe Kim represented the U.S. at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Norway, she hoped to leave the event with at least one medal in her suitcase.

Instead, she surprised herself by winning two. And they were both gold.

The experience launched her career as a world-class snowboarder and propelled her toward taking home the biggest prize of all: a gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games.

Kim is just one example of an athlete whose career took off following the Winter Youth Olympics.

IOC Young Reporters Tweet (@IOCreporters) post text reads: Chloe Kim (USA) during the victory ceremony of the ladies snowboarding halfpipe at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Photo is of Chloe biting her gold medal.

The event, which happens every four years, showcases the best winter athletes in the world between the ages of 15 and 18.

Here are some other athletes who used the Winter Youth Olympic Games as a stepping stone to success:

Kasperi Kapanen in a Leafs uniform skating on arena ice with hockey puck an intense look on his face and tongue sticking out.

Kasperi Kapanen is a big name in the NHL now, but the Finnish player got his start at the Winter Youth Olympic Games alongside goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, who plays for the Minnesota Wild. (Terrence Lee/USA Today Sports)

The list of current NHL players who represented their countries at the Winter Youth Olympic Games continues to grow.

One of the biggest names is Kasperi Kapanen of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He was part of the Finnish team that won hockey gold at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Austria in 2012.

Team photo of Finnish Boys hockey team in uniform wearing gold medals. Kapanen is in the centre of the photo with the gold medal in his mouth. Kapanen is noticeable younger in this photo compared to the Leafs photo pictured above.

When Finnish forward Kasperi Kapanen helped his team win hockey gold at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, he told reporters he wouldn’t take his medal off for the next two months. (Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters)

In fact, Kapanen scored the championship-clinching goal in a 2-1 shootout win over Russia in the final.

After that, Kapanen was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NHL draft, won gold with Finland at the 2016 World Juniors and has become a regular offensive contributor for the Maple Leafs.

Close up of Suzanne Schultings

Suzanne Schulting came away from her first Youth Olympic Games empty-handed, but the experience was a stepping stone to a gold medal finish at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Dutch speed skater Suzanne Schulting didn’t win any medals when she competed at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, but she picked up enough speed to blast into the next stage of her athletic career.

In 2016, Schulting won gold in the 1,500-metre event at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Bulgaria.

Two years later, Schulting became the first athlete from the Netherlands to win an Olympic gold medal in short track speed skating when she crossed the finish line first in the women’s 1,000-metre race in Pyeongchang.

Just 22 years old, Schulting is the current women’s overall short track speed skating world champion.

Canadian contenders

While they aren’t at the very top of the podium — yet — there are a couple of Canadian athletes who made their mark at the Youth Olympic Games and continue to move up the ranks.

Ontario’s Roman Sadovsky earned a personal best score at Japan’s Grand Prix event in November, which allowed him to claim the bronze medal. (Toru Hanai/The Associated Press)

Figure skater Roman Sadovsky from Vaughan, Ont., just barely missed the podium at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

He finished fourth — only four points behind the Russian athlete who won bronze.

Today, he’s competing against the best in the world.

In November, the 20-year-old won a bronze medal at a Grand Prix event in Japan, the first Grand Prix medal of his career.

B.C.’s India Sherret made her Olympic debut at Pyeongchang in 2018, but she crashed and was unable to finish because of her injuries. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

India Sherret of Cranbrook, B.C., was in her first year of ski cross racing when she represented Canada at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, coming in fourth.

She went on to be crowned world junior champion in 2015 and win bronze at her first World Cup in 2018.

Curious to know which athletes to watch at this year’s Games? Check out the top medal contenders.

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