Canadian Sports Visionary Sees A Strong Future for the Youth Olympic Game


By Emily Ridlington, Sports Media Canada Special Correspondent and International Olympic Committee Young Reporter


While the Winter Youth Olympic Games are the brainchild of International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, many National Olympic Committees are actively supporting the concept. This includes Canadian Olympic Committee and its president Marcel Aubut.

COC President Marcel Aubut


“We really adopted the philosophy and we hope it gives the athletes the taste to go forward,” Aubut said.


Aubut has been on the committee since 2000 and was elected president in April 2010. He’s no stranger to sport and the Olympic movement as he’s seen 12 Olympic competitions all over the world.


The Youth Games are winding down and Canada has three medals. The Curling Team won bronze and we earned two gold medals in men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle events. Audrey McManiman from Quebec and Michael Ciccarelli won in their events minutes apart from each other.
The mens’ hockey team is doing quite well and they’ve made it to the semi-finals against Finland. They beat the same team in a shoot-out to finish at the top of their pool. We only sent a mens’ team — a decision made by Hockey Canada.


Hockey holds a special place in Aubut’s heart as does Innsbruck. He was the co-owner of the Québec Nordiques in the National Hockey League from 1978 to 1995. It is through Innsbruck where he succeeded in getting the Stastny brothers, the trio that would go on to play professional hockey, out of Czechoslovakia.


Aubut also attended the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. His vision of the future of this initiative is optimistic.


“I hope it will be a bigger thing with more athletes involved and I want to see a progression,” he said.


Many on the Olympic circuit suggest the Youth Olympic movement will help pave the way and mould athletes for the traditional Olympic Games including the next winter ones in Sochi in 2014. Aubut said he believes some athletes will be ready but they cannot be forced into competing too early. All those competing here in Innsbruck are between the ages of 15 and 18-years-old.


A big part of Aubut’s job as the COC president is convincing others that sport is an area which needs significant financial contributions and investments from both the private sector and governments at all levels.


“It should be an absolute priority in our country, which is not the case,” said Aubut


Part of the solution to improve this he thinks could include enhancing the Own the Podium program by including younger athletes including those here in Innsbruck. The program is designed to enhance high performance sport in Canada.


As on observer of sport, the COC needs to pay a little more attention to the country’s youngest tier of athletes as they are the next generation of Olympians. Investing more time and resources now will build a legacy for the future.