LILLEHAMMER, Norway – The Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games drew to a close Sunday following 10 days of competition between approximately 1,100 athletes representing 71 nations. The Games, which featured 70 medal events across all 15 sport disciplines on the 2018 Olympic program, saw Team USA collect 16 medals, doubling its medal haul from the inaugural Winter Youth Games in 2012. Of the 16 medals, 10 were gold, which tied for the most from any nation.
While U.S. athletes experienced world-class competition, they also participated in the fourth installment of the International Olympic Committee’s Learn & Share Program. A unique element of the Youth Olympic Games, the program offers athletes the opportunity to learn about the Olympic values, explore other cultures and develop the skills to become true ambassadors of their sports.
“All the intangible elements of the Olympic Movement really come to life at the Youth Olympic Games – it has as much to do with educating human beings as it does with educating young athletes,” said Angela Ruggiero, U.S. Olympic champion in ice hockey and chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Lillehammer 2016. “To give these athletes a better understanding of the Olympic values and exposure to different cultures at such a young age helps them think more broadly, which is one of the amazing parts about being an Olympian.
“It’s been an honor to serve as the Coordination Commission chair on behalf of the IOC. I think we’ve worked in great cooperation and it’s been incredible to see our vision come to fruition in Lillehammer. The Youth Olympic Games are a relatively new concept to the Olympic Movement. The Organizing Committee took that concept and really made it their own – and the results have been tremendous.”
Alpine skier River Radamus (Edwards, Colorado) was the most decorated U.S. athlete of the Games, earning gold in men’s combined, giant slalom and super-G. Snowboarders Chloe Kim (La Palma, California) and Jake Pates (Eagle, Colorado) join Radamus as the only other American multi-gold medalists, each sweeping the men’s and women’s halfpipe and slopestyle titles. Other highlights included historic performances in team sports with Team USA winning its first men’s ice hockey gold medal at an Olympic or Youth Olympic Games since 1980, and the U.S. curling team claiming silver in the mixed-gender event – its highest finish ever on an Olympic or Youth Olympic stage.
Team USA competed in 64 medal events across all 15 sport disciplines, earning 45 top-10 finishes, including three fourth-place finishes. Overall, U.S. athletes won medals in seven disciplines – alpine skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, Nordic combined and snowboarding.
“We could not be more proud of our athletes and how they represented our country, both on and off the field of play,” said Wes Barnett, two-time Olympian and Team USA chef de mission. “They really embraced the education and cultural experience, and the solidarity between the athletes has truly surpassed all expectations.
Added Barnett of the Lillehammer Organizing Committee’s efforts: “Our hats go off to the Lillehammer 2016 organizers – the Games really couldn’t have been a more positive experience for us. On behalf of our entire delegation, I’d like to extend a huge thanks to our hosts for their hospitality, and to the volunteers, who helped ensure our athletes had an amazing experience.”
Additionally, three U.S. athletes took home medals in mixed country team competition, including long track speedskater Austin Kleba (St. Charles, Illinois), and figure skating pairs team Sarah Rose (Ellenton, Florida) and Joseph Goodpaster (Hershey Pennsylvania).
For the first time at the Winter Youth Olympic Games, the IOC provided live and daily on-demand coverage of both the sporting action and cultural festivities happening around Lillehammer. In another Olympic first, Samsung helped bring the Lillehammer 2016 Games to life through virtual reality coverage, taking the innovation element to new heights which will be crucial to the future of the Games.
2016 U.S. Winter Youth Olympic Games Medalists
River Radamus, alpine skiing (super-G, combined, giant slalom)
Jake Pates, snowboarding (halfpipe, slopestyle)
Chloe Kim, snowboarding (halfpipe, slopestyle)
Jake Vedder, snowboarding (snowboardcross)
Birk Irving, freestyle skiing (halfpipe)
U.S. men’s ice hockey team
Nike Baden, snowboarding (halfpipe)
Paula Cooper, freestyle skiing (halfpipe)
Alex Hall, freestyle skiing (slopestyle)
Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye, figure skating (ice dance)
Ben Loomis, Nordic combined (men's individual normal hill/5-kilometer cross-country)
U.S. mixed curling team
Mixed Country Team Events (2)*
Austin Kleba, long track speedskating mixed country team event (silver)
Sarah Rose and Joseph Goodpaster, mixed international figure skating team event (gold)
*Not included in Team USA’s overall medal count