Since their inception in 2010, The Youth Olympic Games have been synonymous with innovation and forward-thinking. The games, which started January 9, in Lausanne, Switzerland, were developed in response to concerns about childhood obesity and the declining participation in youth sports—a cause dear to our hearts. It’s no surprise that now, on only the third Winter Youth Olympic Games, they are tackling another issue that’s of huge importance: gender equality in sports. And since the Lausanne 2020 motto is “Start Now,” they are taking on equality right now, with this years’ games.
This is the first time the winter games will have just as many women as men, with 940 female athletes and 940 male athletes expected to compete for medals. These 1,880 young athletes—ranging in age from 14-18 and representing 70 countries—will compete in 81 medal events now through January 22. This elite, international event features eight sports and 16 disciplines. And some new disciplines—including the debut of ski mountaineering, a women’s doubles competition in luge, and women’s Nordic combined—have been added to the program to reflect the increased female participation.
If U.S. snowboard sensation Chloe Kim’s 2016 Youth Olympic Games’ success is any indication, new winter sports stars will emerge from the games over these 14 days. Be on the lookout for these athletes who may soon be household names:
- Montana Osinski of Darien, Conn, is one of two female athletes representing the U.S. in Slopestyle and Big Air.
- Kiernan Fagan of Brownfield, Maine is a freestyle skier who will also be competing in Slopestyle and Big Air.
- Kendall Kramer of Fairbanks, Alaska is a title winning runner and the nation’s top junior-level female skier (shout out to multi-sport athletes!) who will be competing for a cross-country skiing medal.
For more from inCourage about girls and sports, read our article, The Rise of Girl’s Sports: Leveling the Playing Field Leads To Long-Term Success.