The third Winter Youth Olympic Games are set to take place in Lausanne, Switzerland, from January 9 to 22. For the first time in Hong Kong history, the city is sending four athletes to take part in this elite event, which is expected to see more than 1,800 teenagers aged 15 to 18 compete for medals in eight sports.
Young Post spoke to the four Hong Kong representatives before they set off to Switzerland to see how they feel about stepping onto the world stage, and what they strive to achieve at the Games.
Miguel Almirall Perez, 16, Alpine skiing
The 16-year-old was born in Hong Kong but soon moved to Spain after he and his young brother were adopted by a Spanish couple. Miguel started skiing at the age of six and made his debut in International Ski Federation events in November last year.
He specialises in slalom, a discipline that involves skiing between poles and gates against the clock.
Miguel said he is very grateful for the unexpected opportunities brought by his dual Spanish and Hong Kong citizenship, including the ability to join the Hong Kong national alpine ski team eight months ago, meaning he will be representing the city this month.
“My main goal for the Youth Olympics is to gain experience. I’m not thinking of achieving good results,” he said.
“I have never been up on the Swiss snow mountains, so I’m very excited.”
Yam Yau, 14, Ice hockey
The Diocesan Boys’ School student earned his ticket to the Youth Olympics through a global try-out that picks the top 120 players from around the world to take part in the Games’ Men’s 3-on-3 Tournament, in which players from different national teams will team up.
Having spent more than a decade playing the sport, the teenager nailed the trial that tested his techniques, speed, stamina, agility and decision-making abilities. Yau, who started playing at three, under the influence of his elder brother and uncle, hopes ice hockey will start to be appreciated by more Hongkongers.
“I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to represent Hong Kong. I really hope I can get a medal and make ice hockey more famous in the city,” Yau said.
The Form Three student added he is looking forward to teaming up with Russian players, since they are the global cream of the crop, and make new friends at the Games. “I cannot wait to meet new friends and learn new skills from players from all around the world. I would love to know their attitude towards hockey,” he said.
Elvis Hsu Chuo-xi, 15, Ice hockey
Like Yau, Elvis also made it into the top 120 players. Since players from different nations will be randomly assigned to teams, it is very likely that the 15-year-old will be playing on a different team from his fellow Hongkonger.
Still, both players are determined to bring home some shiny souvenirs.
“I’m so thrilled to be able to compete alongside some of the best players in the world. My expectation is to get a medal, either a bronze, silver or gold.”
Elvis was one of the members of the Hong Kong team that competed at the 2019 Men’s Under-18 World Championships (Division III, Group B) in April. The team bagged a silver medal after losing to Chinese Taipei in the final.
Audrey Alice King, 17, Alpine skiing
Unlike Miguel, who with his European home base has better access to mountains, Audrey lives in Hong Kong and doesn’t see snow when she’s home. The Chinese International School student has to take time off school and spend most of her holidays training in Europe.
Last year, she sustained a serious injury while training in France and was delivered to the hospital on a helicopter. But the teen skier has jumped back on her skis and is ready to make Hongkongers proud at the Games.
“Two years ago, I would have never imagined that I’d be able to attend the Youth Olympics [and represent] Hong Kong. I am just extremely grateful for this opportunity,” she said.
Audrey’s number one goal is to go all out and do her best, while staying in her best possible shape, so that she can conclude her first major games without regrets.
“My primary goal for the Youth Olympics is just to finish my runs knowing that I skied the best that I could possibly ski, and feel satisfied with my performance,” she said.
“I think this, more than anything else, is what is most important.”