January 11 - Innsbruck 2012 chief executive Peter Bayer (pictured) has claimed that the Austrian city is ready to host a spectacular Winter Youth Olympic Games despite heavy snow hitting the region in the past week and causing major disruptions to preparations for event.
Many areas across Austria, including Innsbruck, were plunged into chaos over the last few days when heavy snowfall hit the country, forcing many major roads and railways to close.
The travel disruption affected many of the teams heading to the Winter Youth Olympics, such as France who were forced to pass through Germany to get to the event after Brenner Pass, one of the principal mountain passes of the Alps, was closed due to the weather.
The severe weather conditions also saw several flights into Innsbruck diverted to nearby cities such as Munich, while the Youth Olympic Torch Relay was halted earlier this week as organisers waited for snow to clear on parts of the route.
But Bayer said that following hard work from Innsbruck 2012 and the Austrian military to help clear the snow, preparations here are now firmly back on track.
"Things are going to plan and I'm really happy I can say that now because the massive snowfall over the past week has created real problems for us," Bayer told insidethegames.
"But our people at the Organising Committee and the Austrian military have been fantastic in clearing the snow.
"They have been working day and night to get the venues ready and they have done a great job.
"Now it is just about putting the final touches on the event like getting things in the Athletes' Village right so that the competitors feel at home in Innsbruck.
"I'm very confident that things will be great here."
Despite the snow having temporarily stopped, there is more forecast for the Opening Ceremony at the Bergisel Stadium on Friday (January 13) and while Bayer feels it could help create a better atmosphere of the competition, he admits he is hoping for divine intervention to ensure that there is not heavy snowfall.
"I'm praying every morning that the weather will be okay and that the sun will be out to show off Innsbruck in all its glory," he said.
"We are forecast a little bit more snowfall now for Friday but I think that makes it a bit more romantic for the Opening Ceremony when it takes place on Friday evening.
"So I'm really looking forward to a couple of great weeks here."
Nearly all of the 1,100 athletes, aged between 14 and 18, have now arrived at the Athlete's Village ahead of the competition which runs from January 13 until 22.
Hosts Austria boast the largest delegation with a total of 81 athletes and 53 team officials now settled into the Village.
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