First medals won in Innsbruck

14th January 2012, by Chris Gill

Sporting Innsbruck  [(c) Visit Tirol]

Sporting Innsbruck [(c) Visit Tirol]

The first medals have been won at the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, following last night’s opening ceremony – which wasn’t without a few technical hitches along the way but also included a new athletes’ oath.

France has claimed the first gold medal of the competition, which went to 16-year-old Estelle Alphand in the Women’s Super-G event. Alphand is the Alpine skiing favourite and won the race in 1:05:78 seconds. And yes, Estelle is related to the famous downhill skier Luc Alphand – he is her dad. Luc Alphand won many titles during his career and once took the famed Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbuhel twice in one day, in 1995.

The young Alphand is hoping to win gold medals in all four of her disciplines, which are being held on the long Patscherkofel slopes in Igls. The silver medal went to Nora Grieg Christiensen of Norway and the bronze went to Christina Ager of Austria, who claimed the host nation’s first medal of the games in a time of 1:06.06.

There was a delighted Japanese medal winner in Innsbruck too on Saturday, claiming the first women’s gold medal in ski jumping. Sara Takanashi made history, as the 15-year-old took gold after a series of huge jumps; she finished in first place at the Seefeld jump with a total of 269.3 metres, way ahead of her nearest rivals Katharina Althaus of Germany (silver) and Ursa Bogataj of Slovenia (bronze).

Having the women’s ski jumping in Innsbruck is a huge boost to the sport, which has faced difficulties becoming accepted as an Olympic discipline. The men’s event is well established, but it was thought that there were too few women ski jumpers to allow a female version. But the sport received a major Olympic boost last April after being confirmed for Sochi 2014.

In the men’s ski jump event, Anze Lanisek of Slovenia took the gold medal with 286.1 points. So, a good start to the Games.

At Friday’s opening ceremony, the 15,000-strong crowd watched a new version of the Olympic oath as Austrian alpine skier Christina Ager ‘swore’ to respect the ideals of the Olympic movement. It was a new and unusual move that also saw an Austrian coach swearing the same oath on behalf of all the team coaches.

And following the ceremony, an ice machine failure postponed the Saturday morning curling matches until Tuesday. But elsewhere, conditions are good for all the events.

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