Lillehammer 2016 is all about learning and sharing as athletes head to Hakons Hall

Picture by Pietro Montanarella YIS/IOC

Fifteen-year-old Todd Scott, a strapping teenager from the United States, should have no problem pulling himself up on the gymnastic rings at the Learn & Share programmeactivity booth.

Guess again.

“It’s a lot harder than you think,’’ said Scott after he struggled to successfully navigate the rings. “I thought I was a big kid (190cm, 86kg) but I realised there’s more science to it and more angles and more figuring out what you want to do.”

The Learn & Share programme has been a popular destination for the 1100 athletes from 71 countries participating in the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Over the five days since the Learn & Share programme opened at Hakons Hall, about 4500 visits have been recorded, with participants doing everything from learning how to balance on the rings, to skills development, healthy lifestyle, ethics in sport and how to lead healthy lifestyles, as well as education on environmental and social responsibility.

“It is a great way to learn new things you had no clue about,’’ said Scott, who is a goaltender on the USA’s men’s ice hockey team. “I am pretty sure a lot of people have used the (Virtual Reality) goggles where you can go skiing, do CPR and learn new things.”

Kate Anderson of the United States is a Young Ambassador at Lillehammer 2016 and she encourages the YOG athletes to take advantage of the wide variety of activities at Learn & Share. “I think it is great that the athletes can have a more well-rounded experience,’’ she said. “They are young and the opportunity to learn, share and take part in the cultural activities is unique, and something you do not get with the added pressure of the (Summer and Winter) Games.’

Norway's Birk Ruud takes part in the Learn & Share programme at Hakons Hall.

As Scott made his way to another booth, Norway’s Birk Ruud was answering a multiple-choice questionnaire about gambling at the ethics-in-sport booth. Ruud’s eyes were opened by what he didn’t know. “I learned about how to be a good athlete, not to cheat or bet on sports,’’ said Ruud, who competes in the men’s ski slopestyle. “This is new to me and I did not know a lot about it.”\<

Just around the corner from the ethics booth is a place where the young athletes can measure their fitness and agility and compare result with members of Norway’s national team in their sport.

Canada’s Katherine Hogan will compete in women’s monobob and took part in an activity where she stood on a board and reached as far as she could with her arms and legs. A facilitator then entered the data into a computer and compared the results. “I was unsymmetrical, if there is such a word,’’ said Hogan. “My right side is not in synch with my left side, so I’ll have to do more stretching.” Hogan then revealed that she and her fellow competitors are by no means finished with Learn & Share. “We could sit in the room but why do that?”

“We love this place,’’ added women’s monobob competitor Annabel Chaffey of Great Britain. “We all know each other and spend all our time together. Sure we’re competing against each other but we’re such good friends and we love hanging out here.”


Alan Adams is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Based in Toronto, Canada, he has covered sports since the mid-1980s including covering five Winter Olympic Games.