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This weekend and next week will be huge for local snow sports athletes competing around the globe from Utah to Germany to Norway – the nation that next week hosts the second Winter Youth Olympic Games Feb. 12-21 in Lillehammer.
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Lindsey Vonn, the top finisher in the lone training run this week, will try to tackle a weather-challenged Kandahar downhill course Saturday and Sunday in Garmisch, Germany, where she’s trying to build on her 45-point overall World Cup lead over Switzerland’s Lara Gut and claim her American record fifth overall title.
In Deer Valley, Utah, local mogul skiers have been taking their best shots at the 2002 Olympic course, with individual World Cup moguls contested Thursday night. Vail’s Olivia Giaccio was 16th behind top American Jaelin Kauf of Steamboat Springs. Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe claimed the win for her 11th World Cup title.
If that last name is familiar, it should be. Kauf is the daughter of Scott and Patti Kauf, who lived in the Vail Valley and dominated the Pro Mogul Tour in the 1990s.
“Tonight was all Jaelin,” Scott Kauf said, according to a U.S. Ski Team press release. “She’s worked so hard at it and she’s just starting that progression. As parents, you want to see her do the very best she can. This is just the beginning for her.”
Vail Valley mogul skiers Heidi Kloser and Tess Johnson finished 21st and 22nd respectively on Thursday. Dual moguls are set for Sunday.
Meanwhile, several locals will be featured starting next week at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Feb. 12-21 in Lillehammer, Norway. Here’s a list of some of the Eagle County and Colorado athletes who will be featured:
Colorado, Eagle County natives:
Paula Cooper (halfpipe skiing; Vail, Colorado) – Grew up ski racing in Vail, Colorado, and began freestyle skiing in sixth grade at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy…Earned a top-10 finish at the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships.
Jake Pates (halfpipe snowboarding; Eagle, Colorado) – Started snowboarding at age 8…Began training with the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and earned a spot on the U.S. Snowboarding Rookie Team in 2014…Competes in both halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarding, earning multiple wins on the U.S. Revolution Tour in 2014-15. MORE
River Radamus (alpine skiing; Edwards, Colorado) – Enters the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games currently rated fourth in the slalom world rankings in his age group…Member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard TEAM Academy in Park City, Utah…Will be celebrating his 18th birthday on the day of the Opening Ceremony in Lillehammer, Norway. MORE
Logan Sankey (ski jumping; Steamboat Springs, Colorado) – Began skiing at age 2 and competed in both ski jumping and alpine ski racing until committing to ski jumping full time in 2014 after attending the inaugural Fly Girls camp.
Birk Irving (halfpipe skiing; Winter Park, Colorado) – Hails from an avid skiing family in which is father works for ski patrol, his mother is a former alpine racing coach and his sister also competes in halfpipe and slopestyle…Began freestyle skiing and complete his first 360 at age 5…Signed with his first sponsor at age 7…Is a member of the U.S. Freeskiing Rookie Team and competes in both halfpipe and superpipe…Claimed bronze in the men’s halfpipe at the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships and also recorded a top-10 finish at the 2015 Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado. MORE
Nik Baden (slopestyle snowboarding; Steamboat Springs, Colorado) – A student of Steamboat Mountain School, Nik Baden placed 8th at the 2015 X Games Aspen and nearly made the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team at age 16. MORE
2016 X Games Aspen: While these next two athletes are not from Colorado, both competed at the X Games in Aspen last weekend and are among our top medal hopefuls for Lillehammer and have been named the future of U.S. women’s snowboarding:
Here’s the full press release on the Youth Olympic Games in Norway next week:
|U.S. Olympic Committee announces 62-member 2016 U.S. Youth Olympic Team
Team USA to compete at 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games beginning Feb. 12 in Lillehammer, Norway
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee recently announced the 62-member 2016 U.S. Youth Olympic Team that will compete at the second Winter Youth Olympic Games from Feb. 12-21 in Lillehammer, Norway. The 10-day competition for athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 will feature all 15 sport disciplines on the program for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. More than 1,100 athletes from nearly 70 nations are expected to participate.
“We are excited to announce the talented group of athletes who will represent Team USA in Lillehammer, where they will be exposed to world-class competition and cultural diversity,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “The Youth Olympic Games are an important asset to furthering the Olympic values and encouraging worldwide youth participation in sport. Most of our young athletes will be representing Team USA for the first time on the world stage, and I wish them all a fantastic sporting and cultural experience.”
The Youth Olympic Games are an international multi-sport event held every two years consistent with the current format of the Olympic Games. A hallmark of the event is a unique culture and education program – Learn & Share – that is designed to equip athletes with the skills they need to succeed both on and off the field of play.
“The Youth Olympic Games are a great way of instilling the values of education, culture and community in young athletes worldwide, while promoting the harmonious development of youth through sport,” said Wes Barnett, two-time Olympian and chef de mission for Team USA. “As our athletes strive to fulfill their athletic potential in Lillehammer, this experience will also inspire friendships and fond memories to last a lifetime.”
The 62-member U.S. roster is comprised of 42 men and 20 women – an increase from the 57 athletes who represented Team USA at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games that took place in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012. Team USA will be represented in all 15 sport disciplines.
Building on the successful debut of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012, the Lillehammer 2016 Games will feature 70 medal events, including several innovative events that are not on the Olympic program. Among the non-Olympic events are a skills challenge in ice hockey, and mixed gender and/or mixed country team events for alpine skiing, biathlon, curling, luge, figure skating, Nordic skiing, speedskating, and a combination of freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The 2016 program also features seven new medal events – including the debut of monobob, cross-country cross, biathlon super sprint and a Nordic team event – as well as a mass start event for speedskating, which will debut in Lillehammer before appearing on the Olympic program in 2018.
Non-athlete participants are also an integral part of the Youth Olympic Games experience. After being named the first Youth Olympic Games Ambassador for the Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012, three-time Olympian Lindsey Vonn (alpine skiing) will reprise her role for the 2016 Games. Additionally, U.S. Olympic medalists Hannah Kearney (freestyle skiing), Ross Powers (snowboarding) and Molly Schaus (ice hockey) are among the 15 athletes selected by the IOC to serve as Athlete Role Models in Lillehammer.
“The Youth Olympic Games offer a unique blend of elite competition, a festive atmosphere and the opportunity for young people to be inspired and learn through sport,” said Angela Ruggiero, U.S. Olympic champion in ice hockey and chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Lillehammer 2016. “The YOG Ambassadors and Athlete Role Models have a wealth of knowledge to share with the young athletes, many of whom will be experiencing their first multi-sport international competition.”
Coverage of the 2016 U.S. Youth Olympic Team can be found at TeamUSA.org/Lillehammer2016 and
Click here to view the complete 2016 U.S. Youth Olympic Team roster.
Lillehammer 2016 – By the Numbers
Team USA Notes