January 9 - Peter Mennel, secretary general of the Austrian Olympic Committee (ÖOC), has claimed that topping the medal table at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympics is not the most important thing for the young Team Austria that will compete in the inaugural competition in front of their home crowd.
Innsbruck 2012 is set to get underway on Friday (January 13) as the hosts boast one of the largest delegations at the event with a total of 81 athletes and 53 team officials.
The team were presented with their official uniforms and posed for the team photo at a special two-day preparation camp in the town of Abtenau near Salzburg before taking part in a range of workshops addressing issues such as media training, dietary tips, anti-doping and the Innsbruck 2012 Games themselves.
However, when it comes to the Austrian medal haul at Innsbruck 2012, Mennel was keen to play down expectations.
"At the Winter Youth Olympic Games, it's not about the number of medals the team wins," he said.
"Instead, it is about giving the young athletes the chance to gather valuable experience and further their sporting development.
"But we are certainly ready for the Games.
"This is the most we have ever invested in preparation so everything should go according to plan."
Karl Stoss, ÖOC President, echoed the words of his secretary general as he claimed that the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics represent a good chance for the athletes to prepare for bigger events in the future, such as the full Winter Olympics.
"We want to strengthen the team spirit within the group and help the athletes prepare as well as possible for the competitions in Innsbruck," said Stoss.
"The main aim is to give them all a chance to get to know each other and to take away the anxiety and trepidation always linked to such big events."
The two-day preparation camp in Abtenau also saw the athletes participate in a Chat with Champions session, which saw stars including double Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion alpine skier Michaela Dorfmeister (pictured) give the talented young athletes invaluable tips.
"Be proud to represent Austria at an event like this," said the 38-year-old from Vienna, who is widely regarded as one of Austria's best ever female downhill and super-G exponents.
"Do your best to concentrate on your own performance.
"That is something I would change now if I had the chance."
After the Chat with Champions, Dorfmeister made sure that every athlete representing Team Austria in Innsbruck signed the shirt she wore for the Youth Olympic Torch Relay.
"That way I will already have your autograph when you win a medal," she joked.
Austria's men's ice hockey team will be one of the first teams to move into the Youth Olympic Village as they arrive there today, with most of the other athletes following suit late this week.
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