YOG athletes share their stories

As the athletes prepare for the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, we find out how they became world-class athletes and what drives them to compete.

Shannon ABEDA (CAN) is skiing for Eritrea, in the finale to a 40-year story of survival that started with his father fleeing the war-torn country in the 1970s and eventually starting a new life in Canada. ABEDA said skiing for Eritrea helps him explore who he is.

“I’m really proud of my heritage,” he said.

Figure Skater Chantelle KERRY (AUS) said it’s much easier to get annoyed with her coach than other athletes because her coach is her mother, Monica MACDONALD. MACDONALD competed in the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games.

"We used to argue a lot, but now we are getting better. I have learnt to see her as a coach when I am on the ice and my mother when we are outside,” said Kerry.

Australian Snowboard medal hopeful Alexandra FITCH makes sure to talk to her parents on Skype a few times each week, to make them worry about her less while she practices. FITCH suffered a compression fracture to a bone in her lower back during a competition last year.

Hockey-mad Libby-Jean HAY (NZL) said she usually ends up on her bum when playing with her male teammates on an ice hockey team back home.

"It is kind of scary sometimes because they are big," she said.

HAY is competing in the Skills Competition on January 16.