Duncan Mackay
Tom Degun_Innsbruck_2012At the Youth Olympic Games, there is unsurprisingly an attempt from the organisers of the competition to try to replicate the feel of the full Olympic Games for the elite 15-to-18-year-old athletes in attendance.

However, there is also a very obvious move to make the event have a "down with the kids" feel and therefore while the whole thing is far smaller than the Olympics, it is also more colourful, vibrant and interactive than its adult counterpart while there is non-stop hip-hop, pop or R&B music at practically every turn.

Meanwhile on the field of play, there is usually one event that encapsulates the difference between the Olympics and the Youth Olympics.

At the inaugural Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010, that event was undoubtedly 3-on-3 basketball, and a major success it proved.

I remember that wherever I went in Singapore 2010, everyone was talking about the cleverly adapted, fast-paced version of the sport and when the 2010 Youth Olympics drew to a conclusion; there is no doubt who the real winner was.

There has since been a 3-on-3 Youth World Championships set up for the sport by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on the back of the Singaporean success story while there have even been calls to include the sport at the Olympics.

Such a move would come at the expense of the traditional 5-on-5 format of the game – meaning that it is unlikely it will happen anytime soon – but it is perhaps a good illustration of just how good the 3-on-3 Singapore competition was.

Following the example of 3-on-3 basketball, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has used the inaugural 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck to showcase the individual skills challenge.

To quickly explain, the event sees the best 15 male and best 15 female athletes from nations other than those which have qualified to compete in the main ice hockey tournament go up against each other.

Before being invited to the individual skills challenge, the athletes had to qualify through a global qualification programme based on a series of tests designed by the IIHF.

At the Winter Youth Olympics, there are six challenges which consist of: fastest lap, shooting accuracy, skating agility, hardest shot, passing precision and puck control.

All six challenges are rather self-explanatory and the top-8 female and top-8 male players from the qualification stage progress to the final, where they compete for final individual rankings and ultimately medals.

I wrote after the 3-on-3 basketball competition in Singapore that other disciplines should take note of basketball's brave approach to making their sport appeal to the young.

No risk, no reward; I concluded.

Therefore, it was tad disappointing that the individual skills challenge proved a bit boring.

It all started well enough, with the fastest lap proving very watchable.

However, by the time it got to hardest shot well over an hour later, and a capacity crowd was watching each player hitting a puck into the net and left waiting for the speed gun to tell them how fast the shot was, things had become quite tedious.

It was a far cry from my experience in the very same arena the evening before when a superb Canada beat rivals United States 5-1 in a superb men's ice hockey group match in the team tournament that very much excited the noisy and passionate crowd in attendance.

Maybe I found it dull because the event took so much time to move from one challenge to another, or maybe it was because knowing that the best ice hockey players at the Youth Olympics, who appear to come from Canada, are ineligible for the competition because they are fighting it out in the real ice hockey event in Innsbruck.

It actually turns out that Britain has a strong medal hope in the event in the form of young Katherine Gale (pictured).

Katherine Gale_in_Innsbruck_2012She recorded the second highest score of 31 in the women's ice hockey skills challenge event to qualify for the knockout finals.

But one cannot help but feel that any medal won in the competition would be a tad diluted and not quite worth the same value as the precious metals won in the ice hockey team tournament or the alpine skiing races.

The skills challenge also strikes me a bit contradictory.

In 3-on-3 basketball, you are still playing the sport that is played around the world whereas in the individual skills challenge, you are taking isolated elements of a sport which means that you could potentially be very good at the skills challenge and not necessarily any good at ice hockey, or vice-versa.

It is like Rory Delap beating Lionel Messi in a throw-in challenge.

He definitely would, but it doesn't mean he is better than the Argentinian three-time Ballon d'Or winner at football.

But perhaps the biggest own goal came not from the action on the ice, but from the person who decided to start blasting through the speakers: "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)" by Gary Glitter.

Playing the music of a convicted paedophile at the Youth Olympics was one thing, but for the announcer shouting, "Come on kids, let's get dancing to this song!" was a bit much.

To be fair, that wasn't the fault of the IIHF, rather the fault of someone who must be a bit naive to the antics of Gary Glitter.

Although it is not the first occasion that Glitter has been promoted by the Olympics. At Beijing in 2008 the same song was played during the beach volleyball, leading to the BBC receiving several complaints.

But anyway, back to the skills challenge and to sum up.

Overall, it wasn't that bad and fair play IIHF who did the right thing in trying to adapt their sport and take a bit of risk to make it appeal more to youngsters.

But I am left with the opinion that they are fortunate to have the team tournament here and that is the only ice hockey I really want to be watching at Innsbruck 2012.

So although some in attendance may have really enjoyed it, there is no way that even when the dust has settled, the ice hockey skills challenge will appear in the same success bracket as 3-on-3 basketball.

Tom Degun is a reporter for insidethegames covering the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck