UAE debut at Winter Youth Olympics in South Korea.  UAE NOC

Snowboarder Amina AlMehairi, who will compete in snowboard slopestyle, and alpine skier Alex Striedger, who will compete in alpine skiing, complete the delegation representing the UAE at its first Winter Youth Olympic Games.

The Winter Youth Olympic Games kick off on 19 January in four different cities located in the host province of Gangwon, South Korea. Among the 1,900 athletes from 80 National Olympic Confederations will be the United Arab Emirates delegation, which is making its debut at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. The UAE's hopes are pinned on snowboarder Amina AlMehairi and alpine skier Alex Striedger. 

The duo have earned their places in South Korea by qualifying and improving their performances at European competitions and camps in Switzerland, Austria, France and New Zealand, where they also accumulated the points needed to qualify for the Gangwon Olympics. Crucial to their qualification were their results at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in New Zealand. 

Fares Al Mutawa, Secretary General of the UAE National Olympic Committee, stressed that the participation of Emirati athletes in major events is a great indication of the advanced level of the Olympic movement in the UAE. This is a reflection of the support and belief of their wise leadership in the capabilities of the youth, their efficiency and their willingness to compete with elite athletes in the sporting arena. He expressed great confidence and determination in these champions who have set a clear path and exerted maximum effort to achieve their goals and represent the generous UAE".

Al Mutawa added: "We look forward to these opportunities to express our full support and interest in national sporting talent, which has been and remains a top priority for the President of the National Olympic Committee. It is part of our strategy and vision to empower athletes and help them succeed in their endeavours, in line with the directives of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the National Olympic Committee, who emphasised the importance of supporting all athletes and maintaining continuous channels of communication with them to find ways to help them achieve their mission and achieve the best results, and motivate them to continue doing so, in a way that benefits sports in the UAE." 

Hamel Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Vice President of the UAE Winter Sports Federation, said: "The UAE's participation in the Winter Youth Olympic Games is an achievement in itself for UAE sports. It is the result of plans to develop and qualify athletes through participation in local and international competitions by the Federation, the National Olympic Committee and Ski Dubai. The aim is to have an effective presence at global sporting events. Al Qubaisi hopes to achieve a respectable technical level at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games." 

He added that this participation is an important milestone for the future participation in the 2026 Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, in 2026. It also supports the UAE's participation record with the International Ski Federation and the International Olympic Committee.

Snowboarder Amina AlMehairi and skier Alex Striedger will represent the UAE at Gangwon 2024. UAE NOC
Snowboarder Amina AlMehairi and skier Alex Striedger will represent the UAE at Gangwon 2024. UAE NOC

The fourth Winter Youth Olympic Games will be held in Gangwon Province, Republic of Korea, the venue of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Building on the Olympic legacy, this will be the first edition to be held in Asia. Gangwon 2024 aims to empower young people to celebrate the pace of life and unite through sport to build a better future. 

It aims to be a driving force for positive change and social cohesion in the world, with an impact on society in the areas of sport, culture and tourism. 

The Gangwon 2024 Games will benefit from many of the facilities used at Pyeongchang 2018. This will ensure a cost-effective and sustainable Youth Games. Participating athletes will also have the opportunity to compete in some of the same venues where Olympic athletes competed just a few years ago. 

The first Winter Youth Olympic Games were held in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012, while Lillehammer, Norway, hosted the second in 2016 and Lausanne, Switzerland, the third in 2020.