France top medal table as the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival 2023 comes to a close in Udine
The Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG) 2023 came to a close on 28 January, with a spectacular closing ceremony in the Italian city of Udine.
The achievements of all the athletes and volunteers were celebrated after a week which saw the EYOF break records for streaming with more than 430,000 views online and 63,000 hours of playing time.
The final morning of competition saw France take gold in the biathlon mixed team event, with Germany close on their tails for silver and Italy rounding off the podium. In the girls’ alpine skiing Super-G Switzerland’s Laura Huber took gold, 0.63 seconds ahead of Austria’s Nadine Hundegger and Italy’s Tatum Bieler taking bronze. In the boys’ Super-G Attila Banyai of Hungary took gold just 0.04 of a second ahead of Norway’s Rasmus Bakkevig with Austria’s Moritz Zudrell taking bronze.
After 171 medals were awarded across the 14 sports, France ended up at the top of the medal table.
They won seven gold, six silver and four bronze medals during seven days of action which took place across three countries as Austria and Slovenia also hosted events.
Hosts Italy were second in the table with six gold and a total of 21 medals, while Switzerland came third with six golds and 12 medals overall. The 21 medals won by Italy is a record number of medals won by the Italian team at a winter EYOF, with the previous record of 20 medals being set in Vuokatti last year.
More than 1300 athletes took part in the 16th edition of the Winter EYOF as it returned to Italy for the first time since the first winter event 30 years ago.
Of the 171 medals awarded 22 of the 47 countries represented enjoyed success on the field of play.
Numerous athletes won more than one medal but there were special performances from Hungarian speed skater Dominik Major, Spanish skier Laia Selles Sanchez and Slovenian ski jumper Nika Prevc who all won three gold medals. Dora Szigeti (Hungary) and Hanna Mazur (Poland) won four medals a piece during the short track speed skating finals to go home with the largest hauls.
Off the field of play the educational and cultural activities were extensive with the European Youth Olympic Ambassadors spreading the Olympic values and knowledge of Olympism to all that took part in the event. Fostering the spirit of friendship, fair play and tolerance.
European Olympic Committees President Spyros Capralos said: “European Youth Olympic Festivals continue to give young athletes the vital opportunity to compete in international multisport events and Friuli Venezia Giulia has proven another fantastic host. I must thank the organising committee and the Italian National Olympic Committee for their work in making sure the past week has been a success.
“My congratulations also to all the young athletes who took part and especially those who are heading home with one or more medals. I trust that they enjoyed their time here and leave with memories and experiences to last a lifetime.
“Finally, this week would not have been possible without the 1200 volunteers that have given up their time to make sure everything has run smoothly, so thank you to them as well.”
As well as honouring all the athletes who took part in the competitions over the past week, the European Fair Play Movement awarded four trophies during the ceremony to mark moments of sportsmanship and fair play during the festival.
The first of these went to volunteer driver Roberto Bruni. From the European Youth Olympic Ambassador programme Eni Netaj from Albania picked up a prize. Fausto Pedergnana, who handed out the curling medals on Friday and has helped disabled people get into curling at the ASD Curling Club Claut, where he is President, was awarded for his contribution.
And the final overall trophy went to the athletes competing from Ukraine. There were 25 athletes from the country competing with three medals won by the group as they performed admirably at FVG despite the ongoing troubles back home.
President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region Massimiliano Fedriga said: “We can safely say that Friuli Venezia Giulia’s hosting of the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival has been a success. The young athletes have shown plenty of skill, dedication and fair play as they have competed in the 14 different events and there has been lots of exciting sport to watch.
“I must say thank you to our friends in Austria and Slovenia for their help hosting, as well as the 1200 volunteers who have helped make sure that the athletes, coaches, officials and spectators have all enjoyed the best experience possible at the festival.”
To end proceedings of the closing ceremony the official flag handover ceremony took place. The EOC flag was passed from the President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region Massimiliano Fedriga to EOC President Spyros Capralos who then had the pleasure of handing it to Otar Arbolishvili, Mayor of Borjomi Municipality Georgia, where the 17th edition of the Winter EYOF in 2025 will be held.