Meet the Winter Youth Olympians from nations without a winter sports tradition

A host of young athletes from countries without a winter sports background will be taking part as 12 nations make their Winter Youth Olympic Games debut.

By Rory Jiwani

Norway, Canada, Russia, Germany, South Korea, hosts Switzerland, and the United States are all sure to be in the medal shake-up at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

But what about the athletes from places without a winter sports pedigree?

Haiti, Qatar, Ecuador, Pakistan, and Thailand are among the 12 nations making their debut appearance at a Winter YOG.

Colombia and the Philippines are other warm-weather countries with competitors in the third edition of the multisports event.

And perhaps, one day, these young athletes might follow the path taken by Winter Olympians at PyeongChang 2018 as featured in the Olympic Channel original series Far From Home.

Colombia could have a medal hope on their hands

Inspired by watching the Sochi 2014 Games, Diego Amaya left his homeland to head to Salt Lake City and pursue his speed skating dream.

Colombia rules the world in roller skating, but Amaya is determined to make his presence felt on ice.

In November, he qualified for the Games thanks to strong showings at the ISU Junior World Cup including an 11th place in the 1000m opener in Bjugn, Norway.

With most of the skaters in front of him too old to be eligible for Lausanne, the 16-year-old has an outside chance of a medal.

And with his mother there to support him, who knows where he might end up?

Maude Davis Crossland (monobob) is Colombia's other representative with the South American nation doubling its headcount from Lillehammer 2016.

New countries and new faces

Haiti has never had an athlete at the Winter Olympics or Winter Youth Olympics. Until now.

Exactly 10 years and one day after the earthquake which ravaged the Caribbean island, Mackenson Florindo will make history by competing in the alpine skiing giant slalom in Les Diablerets.

The country's ski federation, which was also formed 10 years ago, said in a Facebook post, "Sure, we won't be on the podium but it's just the beginning, our young people are progressing every day! We will pass the mountains.

"Ten years after the beginning of the incredible story, it will be the second breath of a fabulous human adventure for Haiti following the terrible earthquake of January 12, 2010."

Florindo, 17, is his nation's sole representative and will carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony.

The new nations in Lausanne

No fewer than 12 countries are making their Winter YOG debuts in Lausanne.


Alpine Skiing - Ezio Leonetti


Figure skating - Ekaterina Ryabova


Alpine skiing - Sarah Escobar


Alpine skiing - Mackenson Florindo

Hong Kong, China

Alpine skiing - Audrey King, Miguel Chi Hung Almirall Perez

Ice hockey - Elvis Hsu, Yam Yau


Alpine skiing - Era Shala, Drin Kokaj


Alpine skiing - Mia Nuriah Freudweiler


Ice hockey - Thawab Al-Subaey


Ice hockey - Matthew Hamnett

Short track speed skating - Alyssa Pok, Trevor Tan


Alpine skiing - Nichakan Chinupun, Natthawut Hiranrat

Cross-country skiing - Duangkamon Hitchana, Sarawut Koedsin

Short track speed skating - Natthapat Kancharin

Trinidad and Tobago

Alpine skiing - Abigail Vieira


Ice hockey - Novruz Bayhanov