Seven Scots have been named in Great Britain’s 15-strong squad for the European Youth Winter Olympic Festival in Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein from 25-30 January.
Alpine skiers Kirsty Guest (Perth), Euan Kick (Helensburgh) and Zak Vinter (Glasgow) will be joined by cross country skiers Duncan Gibb (Insch), Lynne Gray (Hopeman) and Beth Maclean (Huntly). Figure skater Danni Harrison from Dundee completes the Scottish contingent.
With the senior GB team focusing on the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the competition is crucial to the development of young British athletes and provides them with a multi-sport event experience.
All of the GB team are aged between 15-17 and will compete in four of the eight disciplines – alpine skiing, cross country skiing, figure skating and snowboarding. Ice hockey, Nordic combined and ski jumping are the other events
The festival will attract 900 competitors from 45 nations for five days of action in the Alps.
It is the 12th winter edition of EYOF with Team GB having sent teams to all previous 11 Festivals.
Leading the party as Chef de Mission will be two-times Olympic gold medal-winning sailor Sarah Gosling. Sarah, who triumphed at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 in the Yngling Class, is taking on her second role as Chef de Mission for Team GB, having previously led the delegation in the summer edition of the EYOF at Utrecht 2013.
Gosling said: “This is a great time to be a young British winter athlete following the success of Sochi 2014 last year.
“EYOF 2015 provides the perfect springboard for budding winter Olympians to gain valuable experience at a multi-sport event and as part of Team GB.
“EYOFs such as this offer the chance for young athletes to experience life in an Olympic environment, mix with competitors from different sports and nationalities, and are given the chance to develop as individuals as well as athletes.
“These festivals, and similar Olympic Youth events, have helped shape the Olympic careers of Team GB stars such as Chemmy Alcott, who made her Team GB debut at EYOF 1999.”
Guest, 17, from Perth, said: “Winter sport has grown hugely in popularity since Sochi 2014 and it’s a great time to be involved as a young athlete. EYOF 2015 represents a great opportunity for me to test myself against some of the world’s top young skiers and I’m looking to perform well, particularly in the slalom after becoming British U18 champion in the event last year.”
Helensburgh 17-year-old Kick added: “It’s great to be part of Team GB and events such as EYOF 2015 are brilliant for young athletes like me because they provide a first taste of the multi-sport environment that the Olympic Winter Games is all about. We all dream of going to the Olympics and EYOF 2015 is the ideal event to help us develop as athletes.”
Zak Vinter, 16, from Glasgow, said: “As a three-time British champion I’m going into EYOF 2015 high on confidence and I’m hoping I can do myself justice. It will be my first multi-sport event, which will be a fantastic learning experience for me and, hopefully, one that stands me in good stead for my career and ambitions to compete for Team GB at an Olympic Winter Games.”