Winter Youth Olympics at Lillehammer Kick Off With Curling, Ice Hockey

Lillehammer 2016 Opening Ceremony
Photo Credit To @Lillehammer2016

Lillehammer 2016 begins with a dazzling opening ceremony as 1,100 young athletes gather from 71 nations to compete for glory over ten days.

Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway followed in her father’s footsteps on Friday when she lit the Youth Olympic Games cauldron at the opening ceremony. The Crown Prince Haakon had lit the same cauldron in 1994 to mark the beginning of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer that year. The opening ceremony at the Lysgårdsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena was quite the spectacle. The games’ ambassador and figure skating Olympic champion Yuna Kim was the flag bearer, while six-time cross-country Olympic champion Marit Bjørgen passed the torch to the Princess. The ceremony itself featured the retelling of an inspirational Norwegian tale, showing the journey of a young boy as he dreams of becoming an Olympian.

The ceremony promised exciting days to come, where young athletes from across the world will compete to test their strength and strive to be crowned champions. This second edition of the Winter Youth Olympics features brand new events, including the monobob, the cross-country cross and the Nordic team event. Another exciting first is the introduction of Virtual Reality highlights of the events, said to be accessible using Samsung phones and compatible VR gear.

Curling events mark the beginning of the games.

The round robin playoffs for the mixed team curling events, played in two sessions, were the first to get going on day 1 of Lillehammer 2016. The Crown Prince of Norway cast the opening stone, with the Norwegian Minister for Culture fulfilling the role of skip.

Group A Results.

Among the winners on Friday were Italy, the United States, Russia and Switzerland from Group A. Italy had a fairly comfortable game against a struggling Japanese team, leading the game 4-1 going into the fourth end break. They carried the momentum through the sixth and seventh to finish 7-1.

The US and Turkey were even at the end of the fourth when the US pulled off a steal of three in the sixth end, from which the Turks couldn’t really make it back. The game ended 7-3.

New Zealand failed to recover an early deficit in the first end, with the Russians riding their early advantage to finish 7-5 as the winners.

Switzerland also fared well, stealing one in the second and fifth ends to finish 7-2 against China.

Group B Results.

Victors in Group B on Friday included Canada, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Great Britain. Canada brushed aside Estonia in one of the two heavily one-sided matches in the group, winning 13-2. The Canadians were on form, stealing five in the very first end and already ahead 7-2 by the fourth to establish their domination. Scoring four right after, and stealing another two in the sixth end rounded off a good day for the Canadians.

In the other mismatch in the group, the Czechs destroyed Brazil 19-0, exposing the Brazilians’ clear lack of experience on the ice. The took an overwhelming lead right from the start, but fortunately for Brazil, ended things quickly by the sixth end.

The all Nordic affair between Sweden and Norway went right down to the wire, ending up the closest match of the day. By the end of the eighth end Norway had been leading 7-4, when a brilliant move by Johan Nygren, Sweden’s skip, leveled the score and set-up the turnaround. In the extra end that followed, the Swedes stole a point to pull off an amazing win.

Great Britain won 9-2 against Korea, breezing through with a 4-1 lead at the fourth end, and adding two more in the fifth and three in the sixth.

Results of the Ice Hockey Preliminaries.

Also on the opening day of Lillehammer 2016, the men and women had a game each in the preliminary rounds of the ice hockey events. Norway featured and lost in both, although in quite contrasting manners. In the first game of the women’s preliminary round, Slovakia beat Norway 2-. Slovakia had more shots on goal, and clinched it when Matasova scored the winner off a rebound in the third.

The men’s game though, another Scandinavian affair, was a rude shock for the Norwegians as they were crushed 11-0 by Finland. Finland sank their teeth in from the get-go, scoring five in the first period itself, and never let go. The Norwegians on the other hand had a paltry three shots total on goal, and will have to shake it off quickly if they intend to progress.

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