As the dust settles on the Erzurum 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival we take a look back at Team GB’s time in Turkey as the next generation of winter sporting stars made their Youth Olympic debuts.
Team GB’s first European Youth Olympic medal in four years was won on the snowboard cross course on Palandoken Mountain as Surrey’s Ellie Soutter claimed bronze – the team’s only medal at Erzurum 2017.
The 16-year-old edged out teammate Maisie Hill in the semi-final to secure her chance to go for a medal and eventually came home in third behind a French one-two.
“I cried as I crossed the line,” said Soutter, who was later selected to be the Team GB flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony.
“I was just so emotional as it hasn’t been the best season for me and it’s finally on the way up.
The support from the whole team has been amazing this week and it really helps motivate you. I just hope this isn’t the last medal I win for Team GB - my goal is to compete at Beijing 2022.”
Both Luke Digby and Anna Litvinenko skated their way to top ten finishes in Erzurum, securing personal and season’s best along the way.
After a couple of small errors in the short programme, Litvinenko produced a magnificent season’s best in the free skate to finish seventh while Digby produced his best ever short programme to eventually finish eighth in the boys’ event.
“It’s been an amazing week and I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Litvinenko. “The whole experience has been unforgettable and my goal was a top ten finish so I’m really pleased with that.
“The level of skating here was really high so to compete alongside these girls has been inspirational and I’ve learnt so much, from creativity and choreography to the technical elements of the skaters.”
Angus Wills recorded Team GB’s best alpine skiing result in Erzurum after finishing ninth in the giant slalom.
Wills, along with fellow skiers Ryan Brown, Abi Bruce, Olivia Ward and Alicja Krahelski were taking on the best junior skiers in Europe in Turkey and Wills knew he had to go all out to compete with the establish alpine nations.
"There’s no point skiing just to finish soit’s good to record that kind of result against such strong guys,” said the 17-year-old.
“Often I’m sneaking into the top 30 when racing in Europe but being one of the later starters was a new experience which I felt I handled well.”
A sickness bug all but ruled Wills out from challenging again in the slalom but teammate Brown recovered from a shoulder injury sustained earlier in the week to finish 17th.
For the girls, Krahelski notched the best result of the week with 16th in the slalom as the three skiers recorded five top 30 finishes between them across the two events.
Short Track Speed Skating
There were personal bests galore in the short track hall as Niall Treacy, Holly Hoyland and Natalie Crawford recorded eight PBs between them across Erzurum 2017.
Treacy’s week got off to the best possible start after being elected flagbearer for the Opening Ceremony by his fellow teammates before taking the start line in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m events.
"It’s a massive honour. I didn’t think the rest of the team would vote for me and it’s amazing to know that they were supporting me” said Treacy. “It was an incredible feeling being the one at the front waving the flag.”
There was disappointment for the fourth member of the team, Peter Riches, after an injury ended his Festival without a race in anger, but for Hoyland the team spirit shown by the whole of Team GB helped spur the other three skaters on.
“There’s been a real one team ethos in Turkey with everyone supporting each other,” said Hoyland. “It’s been a really good week.
“I’ve learnt a lot and will be taking it back with me to work on further. My long term goal to get onto the senior team when I turn 18 so for the next two years I need to work really hard and experiences like this in Erzurum will really help.”
Cross Country Skiing
Identical twins Oliver and Fergus Newman led the British cross country charge at Erzurum 2017 with school mates Jack Nicholls and Brodie Murray completing the line-up.
And it was Oliver who came out on top in the friendly family rivalry, being Team GB’s best finisher twice out of the four races and the four Brits pushed themselves to the limi and battled the best in Europe in Erzurum.
“There’s an incredible sense of achievement in the sport,” says Fergus, who’s the older twin by six minutes.
“You are pushing yourself as hard as you can and when you finish and collapse on the line you know you couldn’t have given any more.
“Even if you haven’t had a good race you know you’ve given everything, which is always an encouraging thought.”