Well that’s a wrap from the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games and Team GB return home from Norway boasting five medals and personal bests galore.
The 16-strong team competed across seven winter sport disciplines during the 10 days of action and for Chef de Mission Adam Pengilly the experience the Games had to offer our team of 15-17 year olds will be one to live long in the memory.
“There’s been a real focus on togetherness and one team here in Lillehammer,” said Pengilly.
“Our performances have been excellent and we’ve seen many of the team produce their best out here.
“The support that the team has given each other has been fantastic and it’s great to have watched these young athletes learn and grow as people as well as competitors. This event has done wonders for some of these guys both on and off the field of play.”
Monobob pilot George Johnston was given the honour of flagbearer duties for the Opening Ceremony after being voted in by his fellow athletes but it was a young freestyle skier from Kent who got the medal action underway on Day 3 of the Games.
Madi Rowlands, who put down the best two runs of the halfpipe competition, made history that Sunday by becoming the first Team GB athlete ever to win a gold medal on snow.
The 15-year-old would then follow that success up with bronze in the slopestyle event a few days later making her Team GB’s only multi-medallist at the Games. In the men’s event, Cal Sandieson narrowly missed out on the podium as he finished fourth.
“I feel so happy at the moment because I didn’t expect it at all. I haven’t been on the podium that much in my career so it’s definitely that extra bit more special," said Rowlands.
“My goal now is to try to continue and make it to the Olympic Games.
“My friends and family went crazy over me winning one medal so I have no idea what they are going to do over this second one.”
The team’s second gold medal of the Games came from Ashleigh Pittaway, who continued Team GB’s success in women’s skeleton by finishing almost a second clear of the entire field from her two runs.
At just 15-years-old, Pittaway is following in the footsteps of the likes of Lizzy Yarnold and Amy Williams in the sport and will compete in her first ever World Cup race this weekend in Königssee.
“It feels amazing to win the gold. I’m so happy and so proud to represent my country,” said Pittaway.
“When I first crossed the line I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was standing next to me watching me finish – it was so surreal and just like a movie”
On the same ice track, Kelsea Purchall continued the medal trend by taking bronze in the women’s monobob – just in front of teammates Annabel Chaffey and Aimee Davey who finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Purchall was later named as the team’s Closing Ceremony Flagbearer and the 17-year-old admitted she would take away a lot more than she expected from the Games.
“The whole experience has been really overwhelming. Everyone on team has got on really well, been supportive of each other and performed fantastically – it’s just been brilliant fun,” said Purchall.
“I think I’ll remember the people the most. I didn’t expect to become friends with so many people from different sports and nations and it highlights what a fantastic stepping-stone this event is up to senior level.”
Personal bests were a common theme during the Games with both alpine skiers Iain Innes and Yasmin Cooper coming away from Norway with two top 20 finishes to their names while luge racer Lucas Gebauer-Barrett achieved his aim of breaking into the top 10 of the men’s event.
Verity Lewis missed out on qualification for the women’s ice hockey skills challenge finals by just a single point but impressed throughout the competition and ended up with personal bests in each of the six skills.
Ski cross racer Isobel Brown’s Games ended early after a knee injury forced her to pull out of the final two qualification races in the women’s event while the mixed curling team of Ross Whyte, Amy Bryce, Callum Kinnear and Mili Smith fell at the quarter-final stage following a last stone defeat at the hands of Russia.
However, skipper Whyte went on to round off the medal action for Team GB with silver in the mixed doubles alongside China’s Yu Han.
“Getting to stand up on the podium for Team GB is a really incredible feeling,” said Whyte.
“Losing in the mixed team event was gutting but to win this more than makes up for it and means I won’t be going home from the Games disappointed.
“The whole team here in Lillehammer have done well and we’re so happy to come away with five medals. I think we’ve exceeded our expectations and it’s been brilliant.”