Swiss Alpine skier Aline Danioth and Norwegian biathlete Marthe Krakstad Johansen stood out as the most decorated athletes at the 2016 Winter YOG. Aline medalled in every individual event, taking home two gold medals (in the combined and the slalom) along with two bronzes (super-G and giant slalom).
Meanwhile, Marthe made it to the podium in every single biathlon event, starting with silvers in the 6km sprint, 7.5km pursuit and single mixed relay and finishing with gold in the mixed relay.
“It’s a special event. I can only compete in the Youth Olympic Games once in my life, so to win four medals is so cool,” said Aline after her victory in the slalom. “I would never have believed I could win four medals. Even for one everything needs to come together! I think that once you’ve won one, everything gets easier. But today I was really nervous!”
Next stop for her is the FIS World Junior Championships in Sochi, where she hopes to continue her success.
The slopes of Hafjell were also the scene of some incredible performances by American skier River Radamus. His three gold medals in the super-G, combined and giant slalom were unmatched by any other athlete, a winning record blemished only by his DNF in the slalom.
“It’s surreal,” he said after winning his third gold medal. “I can’t compare it to anything. I’ve never had success at this scale. There are 60 competitors out there and anyone could have won it.”
In biathlon, Marthe’s team-mate Sivert Guttorm Bakken also made his mark by winning gold in the 10km pursuit, silver in the 7.5km sprint and then wrapping things up by anchoring the Norwegian team to gold in the mixed relay, just hours before the closing ceremony.
The standout performer of the cross-country skiing was undoubtedly Republic of Korea’s Magnus Kim. Magnus, whose mother is Korean and father is Norwegian, won medals in all three individual competitions held at the Birkebeineren Stadium, handling the jumps and bumps of the spectacular cross-country cross competition better than anyone and then following up with silver in the classic sprint and gold in the 10km freestyle races.
With the next Olympic Winter Games due to be held in Pyeongchang in 2018, Magnus hopes his success will help increase the popularity of cross-country skiing in his home country. “I think that it will give a boost to the sport,” he said.
American freestylers and Slovenian ski jumpers
The snowboarding competitions were split between two different venues: the Vinterpark in Oslo for the half pipe and the Hafjell Freepark for the slopestyle. Moving locations seemed to have no effect on Americans Chloe Kim and Jake Pates, who both won gold in their two events. Fifteen-year-old Chloe showed that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future, while Jake also impressed with his huge tricks.
The Slovenians proved to be equally unbeatable in the ski jumping competitions, landing every gold medal available. Seventeen-year-olds Ema Klinec and Bor Pavlovic have both already featured on the FIS World Cup circuit and their experience showed through. Ema dominated the women’s competition with two huge jumps of 95m and 96m, while in the men’s Bor was the only person to jump over 100m. The two then joined forces with team-mate Vid Vrhovnic for the mixed team competition, where they added another gold to their collections.
Long track and short track success for Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea anthem seemed to be on repeat in Hamar and Gjovik, home to the venues for the long track and short track skating respectively. Only a single title in each sport eluded the team’s brilliant young skaters.
Among the standout performers in the long track were Park Ji Woo in the women’s and Kim Min Seok in the men’s, who both became double Olympic champions with victories in the 1,500m and the mass start. The pair hope those triumphs will put them on a path to success in their home Games in Pyeongchang in two years’ time.
“We can become one of the strongest nations at a senior level,” said Park. Their success was matched in the short track by Kim Jiyoo who won gold in the 1,000m and the mixed NOC team relay.
Finally, Russia continued their proud tradition in the figure skating, with the brilliant Polina Tsurskaya, who could well be one to watch in 2018, leading their impressive medal rush.