The flame officially went out on the Vuokatti 2022 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) yesterday, bringing five days of winter sporting action to a close in the Finnish mountains.
Over 1,000 athletes from 44 European nations headed to Vuokatti for the 15th edition of the winter festival, with Team GB naming a 10-strong squad to compete across five different sports.
Team GB’s highest placing came in the figure skating, where 17-year-old Ed Appleby registered a score of 184.46 to finish fourth, just 1.30 points behind the medal places. Appleby was lying third in the standings going into the free skate, but a couple of slight mistakes in his routine allowed Casper Johansson of Sweden to leapfrog the Brit into the top three.
But despite some short-term disappointment, the Essex-born skater saw the bigger picture. He said, “If somebody told me coming into the event that I’d be in the top five - I’d have been thrilled. I’m glad that it has shown all the effort that we have put into the training, which was all I wanted to do out there.
“I’m irritated about the individual slip-ups, but I’m happy with both of the skates and I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to compete at EYOF and to represent my country.”
In the women’s event, Elena Komova’s overall score of 118.02 saw her finish in 18th position.
Snowboarder Koby Cook had a slopestyle competition to remember, finishing fifth in a packed field of 38 riders. Cook squeezed through the qualification heat, clinching the sixth and final spot in heat one, and then put down a score of 67.50 in the final to secure his place in the top five.
The Yorkshireman, who ended up only 2.50 points off of the podium places, said, “I wasn’t expecting fifth place at all – it wasn’t even expecting to get to the final, so I’m really happy with it.
Looking ahead to the future, he added, “I’ll look to keep improving and keep learning new tricks. The more competitions I go to, the more I can go up the rankings and hopefully when the next Olympics comes around, I’ll be able to qualify for it.”
Adam Hill, who was chosen to be the team’s flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony, posted two personal bests (1500m and 500m) during the festival, with his highest placing in the 500m where he finished 11th overall.
Our four alpine skiers faced a busy schedule at the Games, with four straight days of racing on the Vuokatti Slopes. Alexa Elliff, Isla Ward, Aidan Urquhart and Ted Slade all qualified for the finals in both the slalom and parallel slalom disciplines, but the quartet were knocked out in the first round of the mixed team event following defeat to Poland across four races.
18-year-old Slade had the highest finish during the week, claiming 13th place in the men’s parallel slalom.
It was a 12th place finish for Mani Cooper in the women’s Nordic combined in its debut at the European Youth Olympic Festival. Cooper, who resides and trains in Innsbruck, Austria, reacted to this landmark moment, saying “It’s amazing that the women from the Nordic combined are slowly getting the same chances as the men.
“I’m also really happy that I can represent Team GB as a female Nordic combined athlete and I hope to inspire some other girls. It’s amazing how it’s growing and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.”
Anna Berger, who carried the Union Flag into the Opening Ceremony, finished 49th in the biathlon 6km sprint, in what turned out to be her only event of the week, following her withdrawal from the 7.5km discipline due to illness.
The next edition of the European Youth Olympic Festival is set to take place this summer in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia (July 24-30), with ten summer sports on the programme.
Results from Vuokatti 2022:
Aidan Urquhart (25th – slalom, 26th - parallel slalom, out R16 - mixed team event)
Ted Slade (21st – slalom, 13th - parallel slalom, out R16 mixed team event)
Alexa Elliff (18th – slalom, 21st - parallel slalom, out R16 mixed team event)
Isla Ward (30th – slalom, 24th - parallel slalom, out R16 mixed team event)
Anna Berger (49th – 6km sprint)
Ed Appleby (4th – men’s figure skating)
Elena Komova (18th – women’s figure skating)
Mani Cooper (12th – women’s Nordic combined)
Adam Hill (21st – 1500m, 11th – 500m, 13th – 1000m)
Koby Cook (24th – Big Air, 5th – slopestyle)