Youth Olympics·Fun facts

Youth Olympic Games: 11 things to know

One of eight new events at the Lillehammer Youth Olympics will be the monobob, which is exactly the way it sounds: solo bobsleigh. Women's ski jumping was at Innsbruck 2012 before the sport's Olympic debut in Sochi.

Solo bobsleigh makes its debut in Lillehammer

Monobob. It's the newest event at the Youth Olympic Games and it's pretty much what you think it is. (Courtesy Omega)

The winter Youth Olympic Games begin Friday in Lillehammer, the city that held the 1994 Olympics. Lillehammer 2016 will run Feb 12-21. will carry daily video highlight packages on the website and CBC Sports app.

So what's it all about? Read on so you can sound smart when discussing the latest monobob results.

1. Not a mini-Olympics

To control the size of the Games, countries can't send athletes in every sport. Some events are highly competitive, while others are less so. Around 1,100 athletes aged 14 to 18 are expected in Lillehammer from over 70 countries. Both the winter and summer Youth Olympic Games feature about one-third the number of athletes compared to the Olympics.

2. Team Canada

Canada will send 54 athletes in 11 sports to Lillehammer 2016. There are 15 sports in total, the same number as the winter Olympics. Four years ago in Innsbruck, there were 51 Canadians in 13 sports.

3. Stars of tomorrow

Very rarely will Youth Olympians make the next possible Olympics, but it does happen. Swimmer Tera Van Beilen, rhythmic gymnasts Katrina Cameron and Anjelika Reznik competed for Canada at the London Olympics, only two years after Singapore 2010. Luger John Fennell qualified for Sochi after attending Innsbruck 2012. "They're on a smaller scale but they get you ready for the real Games," said Fennell.

It's likely that this year's Youth Olympians will be aiming for Beijing 2022.

4. Lillehammer, Nanjing, Singapore, Innsbruck

Lillehammer 2016 is the fourth Youth Olympic Games. The first winter version was Innsbruck 2012. There have been two summer editions: Singapore 2010 and Nanjing 2014.

5. Great opportunity

Short track speed skater Isabelle Charest is Canada's Chef de Mission. She returns to Lillehammer where she won her first of three Olympic medals. "I wish I had this when I was young," said Charest. She points out that winter athletes have fewer multi-sport Games compared to summer athletes. "I think it's even more important for winter Canadian athletes."

​6. Legacy of Past Olympics

There are 13 venues for Lillehammer 2016, including existing venues from the 1994 Olympics.

7. Measuring stick

The Youth Olympics can be a stepping stone. Wrestler Dorothy Yeats won gold at Singapore 2010 and the next year won her first senior tournament. "It was one of the greatest experiences of my life," says Yeats, now a Commonwealth and Pan Am Games champion. "It was the first time I was able to see exactly where I stood against the world."

8. Introducing.... Monobob

One of eight new events in Lillehammer will be the monobob, which is exactly the way it sounds: solo bobsleigh. Women's ski jumping was at Innsbruck 2012 before the sport's Olympic debut in Sochi. "It was definitely beneficial, I felt more prepared," said Canadian Olympian Taylor Henrich, who went to both Games.  

9. Medals. But not as many as the Olympics

There will be 70 medals events in Lillehammer. There were 98 medal events at the Sochi Winter Games. In Rio 2016, there will be 306 medal events.

10. Not junior worlds

The Youth Olympic Games are not a junior world championships either. "I think conceptually it's a good idea I don't necessarily think it fits for every sport," said Eric de Nys, high performance director for Biathlon Canada. 

11. To be continued

The next two Youth Olympic Games are Buenos Aires 2018 (summer) and Lausanne 2020 (winter).


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