Australian alpine skier and ski cross racer, Zoe Michael, will lead the 33 strong Australian Team at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on Thursday evening in Switzerland.
The 17 year old Manly born athlete, now based in Park City, Utah, has grown from learning to ski as a seven year old at the Perisher Winter Sports Club to competing in International Ski Federation (FIS) competitions around the world. In just her first year competing on the FIS circuit in 2018, she won slalom gold at the Rocky Central Championships in Vail Mountain, and qualified for the Australian National Team and the Park City FIS Elite Team.
“I was really surprised when Ramone (Chef de Mission) asked me to be Flagbearer, but also super happy and proud” said Michael about first hearing the news.
“When I was younger, I had always wanted to do something like this I never thought I’d actually get to do it. I feel like all the effort I put into skiing and the hard work has paid off for me. Being Flagbearer means leading and representing your Team and your country and I’m really excited to do that the best I can.”
Michael joins dual Olympian Greta Small (alpine skiing) and PyeongChang 2018 Olympian Emily Arthur (snowboard halfpipe) in the small group of Australians who have been selected to carry the flag at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Both Small and Arthur started their careers at the YOG before representing Australia at the Winter Olympic Games a few years later. With similar ambitions to the Flagbearers who have come before her, Michael said she is excited to carry on the tradition at the Vaudoise Aréna in the Olympic capital.
The third edition of the Winter YOG will feature a two wave competition format, an innovative concept designed to increase hosting capacities with each wave of athletes having a shorter stay in the village.
The first wave of competition will take place from the 9 – 15 January, with the second wave kicking off on 16 January until the closing ceremony on the 22 January.
Michael is the only Australian competing across both weeks of the Games, competing in her preferred alpine events during the first week, and embracing the challenge to compete in ski cross during the second week.
The Lausanne 2020 Opening Ceremony will kick off at 7.30pm on Thursday January 9 (5.30am Friday Jan 10 AEDT). You can watch the entire ceremony live at olympics.com.au/live-stream.