Emily Ridlington reports from Innsbruck

Canadian  sports journalist Emily Ridlington is in Innsbruck, Austria at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games as part of the International Olympic Committee’s Young Reporters Program.

From January 13 to January 22, the 24-year-old and 14 other young reporters from around the world will be working in the field to cover the Games. Ridlington and the others were chosen from amongst the best of the cadre of Young Reporters after the first Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August 2010.

Originally from Sackville, N.B., she holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University in Ottawa. Ridlington has been living for the past two years in the Canadian Arctic in Iqaluit, Nunavut. She works as a radio and television reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 

Winter wonderland

Emily Ridlington in Austria


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

The mountain peaks caps are capped  with snow as the tips peek out through the clouds. The city is abuzz as everyone is putting the final touches on preparations for the Games. Zambonis gracefully go over ice surfaces; signage is going up all — in great anticipation of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

With International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge on hand, the Games are a chance for athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 to compete in 15 winter sports. Examples include hockey, short track speed skating, curling, luge, ski jumping and biathlon.  Over 1,059 athletes from 60 countries will be represented.

The IOC is also using these Games as testing ground to try new versions and combinations of competions such as mixed-gender relays and team competitions between various national Olympic Committees. In addition to the sporting events the IOC is also trying to encourage youth athletes to become model citizens. They will participate in a culture and education program. There will also be athlete role models on hand to inspire the next generation of young athletes.

This is not the first time Innsbruck has hosted an Olympic Games. The city hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. In fact, the Sports Media Canada Executive Vice President, Don Goodwin, was Chef de Mission of the Canadian Team at the ’76 Games and remembers Innsbruck fondly.

Snow is not new to me — living in the Arctic with frigid temperatures. but it is new to some of my colleagues from India, Barbados, Zimbabwe and Singapore. Flying into Innsbruck, one of them said she was as excited as a child on Christmas morning as she saw the countryside covered with a layer of the white stuff. For me the scenery is similar to that of Banff but the experience is something I am looking forward to. I have told these friends from the extreme south they will be have to participate in a winter activity of their choice before we depart. I will of course happily act as their teacher.

I am quite looking forward to these next couple of weeks working hands-on in an Olympic setting.

Now — off to empty my suitcases of warm toques, gloves and scarves to lend to those who didn’t come with some. Fortunately I have quite the wide collection.