The fourth edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games will draw to a conclusion Thursday evening in eastern South Korea, with the host country’s teenage athletes having provided a glimpse into a promising future. Gangwon 2024 was held across the namesake province as the first Winter Youth Olympics outside Europe, after Austria, Norway and Switzerland hosted the first three editions. This was also the largest Winter Youth Games, with 1,802 athletes from 78 nations participating .Korea had the largest delegation with 102 athletes, and the host country delighted the home crowd to the tune of five gold, six silver and four bronze medals through Wednesday, with more medal events scheduled for later Thursday.
Though medal totals were tallied in real time on the event’s website, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) doesn’t officially archive the medal table for future reference, unlike the senior Olympic Games. This is by design. The IOC wants to foster friendly exchanges among young athletes from around the world and offer educational opportunities through sports, rather than put these athletes in high-pressure, high-intensity competitive environments. On the other hand, the joy of seeing homegrown athletes grabbing medals still drew tens of thousands of spectators to venues across Gangwon Province, the same places that hosted events during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. All ice events for Gangwon 2024 were held at the Olympic venues from six years ago, as were ski jumping, biathlon and sliding events. Youth Games organizers and IOC officials frequently highlighted the reuse of the 2018 Olympic venues as a key feature of Gangwon 2024, something that allowed the legacy of the first Winter Games in Korea to live on six years later .Gangwon 2024’s own legacy will be the growth of young athletes who will successfully use their performances here as a stepping stone for their careers .The most recent senior Winter Games in Beijing two years ago featured 341 Youth Olympics alumni. They combined for 53 medals, including 24 gold medals.
Korea will be hoping its athletes will be able to join the party at Milano-Cortina 2026 and beyond .In Gangwon, Korea grabbed four medals from short track speed skating and three medals from speed skating, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the country’s strong pipeline of skating talent .It also seemed fitting that the country’s first gold medal of the competition came from short track, the event Korea has long dominated internationally, as Joo Jae-hee grabbed the men’s 1,500-meter title. The wide distribution of medals was also encouraging for Korea, as it grabbed medals in sports it had rarely excelled in before. The host country’s second gold medal came from bobsleigh, where So Jae-hwan won the men’s monobob title. He became the first Asian, male or female, to win a sliding gold medal in Youth Olympics history. Shin Yeon-su earned bronze in the men’s skeleton, the first Youth Olympic medal by an Asian athlete in that event .In other history-making performances, Kim Hyun-gyeom won the men’s singles figure skating gold medal to become the first Korean male figure skater to do so at a Youth Olympics. The women’s hockey team grabbed silver in the 3-on-3 tournament, the first Olympic hockey medal ever for Korea.
Shin Ji-a, considered a medal favorite in the women’s singles figure skating, lived up to her hype by taking home silver. Two medals came from freestyle skiing, with Lee Yoon-seung winning the men’s dual moguls gold medal and helping Korea to silver in the mixed dual moguls event. Snowboarder Lee Chae-un won the men’s slopestyle gold medal and was scheduled to go for his second gold of Gangwon 2024 in halfpipe, his main event, later Thursday. As the host of the 2018 Winter Games, Korea captured its first-ever medals in skeleton, bobsleigh, curling and snowboard. In all, Korea collected 17 medals, its most at a Winter Games .The country was not able to build on that success four years later in Beijing, where it reverted to its old ways and only won medals in short track and speed skating, totaling just nine .If the young medalists from this winter can follow in the footsteps of other Youth Games alumni and thrive at the next Winter Games two years from now, then the country’s first Winter Youth Olympics will be remembered as a vital part of its winter 토토사이트 sports history