LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- In 1994, Håkons Hall served as the ice hockey arena at the Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games. For the next two weeks, it will serve as the Learn & Share headquarters for the athletes of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The Learn & Share program, which runs through Feb. 21, aims to equip the more than 1,100 athletes competing in Lillehammer with tools needed to excel both on and off the field of play. Through Learn & Share, athletes are able to learn lifelong skills through fun, engaging methods. A majority of these stations are made of core educational activities happening primarily in the Youth Olympic Villages located in Lillehammer and Hamar, Norway. The activities will rotate between the two venues to ensure athletes are able to experience all 25 activities.
“Learn & Share is the heart of the Games beyond sport and competition,” said Philippe Furrer, the International Olympic Committee’s head of Youth Olympic Games engagement, Learn & Share. “We want to empower athletes with the tools and knowledge to be the best possible athletes on the field and beyond it.”
Ranging from obstacle courses to interactive games, the activities are designed around six educational themes: Olympism, Well-Being and Healthy Lifestyle, Skills Development, Expressions – Your Actions, Cultural Exchange, and Expressions – Your Stories.
“What is amazing about the Learn & Share is how everyone bonds, no matter what country they are from,” said Oliver Wahlstrom, who plays forward for the U.S. men’s ice hockey team. “It’s fun to come here to take your mind off competition and meet new people and experience new cultures.”
Outside of the stations in the Learn & Share tent – located next to the dining hall in the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Village – there are also workshops, local excursions and a Chat with Champions lounge available to the Youth Olympic athletes. The workshops – such as an “Eat Smart” cooking lesson – provide a hands-on experience. Athletes can also take advantage of local excursions around Lillehammer. These trips include the Olympic Museum, Swix Wax Factory and Madshus Ski Factory, one of the oldest ski factories in the world.
The Chat with Champions will feature talks from 15 world-class athletes from around the globe who are serving as Athlete Role Models at the Youth Games. Three of the ARMs are from the U.S. – Olympic freestyle moguls champion Hannah Kearney, Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Ross Powers and two-time Olympic silver medalist ice hockey player Molly Schaus.
“I’m really excited to be one of Team USA’s Athlete Role Models and have the opportunity to meet so many athletes from around the world,” said Schaus. “The organizing committee has done an amazing job making the Youth Games more than just a competition, but helping athletes succeed in life outside of competition.”