Benjamin Raich announced as YOG Ambassador

21 July 2011 10:40

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is delighted to reveal that Austrian Alpine ski racer and Olympic champion Benjamin Raich will be a Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Ambassador for Innsbruck 2012, which will take place from 13 to 22 January 2012.

Raich, the gold medallist in slalom and giant slaom at the 2006 Turin Olympic Winter Games, is the second Winter Youth Olympic Games Ambassador, following the announcement of Lindsey Vonn earlier this year. The concept of having a YOG Ambassador was initiated last year at the inaugral Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. Raich and Vonn follow in the footsteps of Singapore 2010 YOG Ambassadors Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva and Michael Phelps.

In addition to encouraging young people worldwide to become more active in sport, both Raich and Vonn will also act as mentors and support the young athletes competing in Innsbruck as part of their roles as Winter Youth Olympic Games Ambassadors.

Hailing from Tyrol, the same region as Innsbruck, Raich won the Junior World Championships in both slalom and giant slalom, and this experience of international competition at a young age will help Raich identify and connect with the athletes competing in Innsbruck.

Benjamin Raich said: “As a Tyrolean, I have skied these mountains all of my life.  It makes me enormously proud to see the first Winter Youth Olympic Games hosted in Innsbruck and witness elite young athletes from all over the world experience the world-class facilities this region has to offer.  Developing youth sport is a great passion of mine, and as an Austrian it is privilege for me to be part of Innsbruck 2012.  Winter sports are hugely exciting both to participate in and to watch, and I hope that in my role as an Ambassador I can encourage young people to do both!”

IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “It is truly sensational to have two-time Olympic gold medallist Benjamin Raich on board as a Winter Youth Olympic Games Ambassador for Innsbruck 2012. Benjamin is an exeptional athlete and one of Austria’s best alpine ski racers. He is a great icon in winter sport, and it is particularly special to have an Ambassador from the host nation. Together with Lindsey Vonn, we are confident that Benjamin will make a fantastic role model for the first- ever Winter Youth Olympic Games.”

This week, Raich took time out of his busy training schedule to film a promotional campaign for the Youth Olympic Games which will be launched in the autumn in the run-up to the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. 

Click here to view an exclusive video of Benjamin Raich

Innsbruck 2012 will attract over 1,000 top athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 from roughly 70 countries. The athletes will compete in the same seven sports as those on the programme for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, but a number of the 63 events will feature for the first time at an Olympic competition. They include: biathlon mixed relay, luge team relay, ski halfpipe, snowboard slopestyle, figure skating mixed team event, ice hockey skills challenge and women’s ski jumping.

In addition to mixed gender events, there will also be mixed National Olympic Committee competitions.

As well as competing in their sports events, the athletes will participate in a Culture and Education Programme (CEP) featuring fun and engaging activities designed to provide guidance on a wide range of topics, including the Olympic values, the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle and preventing sports injuries.