Snowboarders compete during the inaugural multi-discipline event ©Lillehammer 2016

"Never write off the Germans" is an old proverb in football, but rarely has it rung so true as at today's first ever team ski-snowboard cross event here at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympics where the nation claimed gold despite being briefly eliminated at the semi-final stage.

In an innovative mixed team event in which each four-person squad consisted of a male and female skier and a male and female snowboarder, athletes began their run at the top of the course when their team-mate on the previous leg crossed the line at the bottom. 

This meant a reliance on an electronic system to trigger their start-gate to release, something that failed to happen in the final leg of the first semi-final due to Sebastian Pietrzkowski jumping as he crossed the line, meaning the Germans did not finish in the top two and make it through.

The final leg was repeated, however, and Cornel Renn charged home in the lead to secure their progression, and inflict agony on Australia, who missed out after initially thinking they had done enough.

In the final, Germany recovered again, lying third after two female legs from Celia Funkler and Jana Fischer before Pietrzkowski pulled them into second.

Renn completed the job superbly, powering home to win an event which encapsulates the Youth Olympic values of innovation and togetherness more than perhaps any other.

Celia Funkler, Sebastian Pietrzykowski, Jana Fischer and Cornel Renn of Germany celebrate after winning the gold ©Lillehammer 2016/Twitter
Celia Funkler, Sebastian Pietrzykowski, Jana Fischer and Cornel Renn of Germany celebrate after winning the gold ©Lillehammer 2016/Twitter

“My gate was supposed to open first, but the Australian’s [Doug Crawford] opened first, so I [started] 20 metres afterwards,” said the German anchor-leg man afterwards.

“My trainer and board-cross teammate protested.

“It was [great] that there was a team competition, everyone could show [their] skills.”

“It feels awesome to be an Olympic gold medallist."

Switzerland's Sophie Hediger, Talina Gantenbein, Pascal Bitschau and Sascha Rueedi won silver after a photo finish over a mixed nationality team consisting of Sweden's Veronica Edebo and David Mobaerg, Ukraine's Daryna Kyrychenko and Bulgaria's Valentin Miladinov.

Many hope the event could now go on to feature on the biggest stage, although the International Ski Federation have no plans yet to take it further forward.

"As with many sports, the cross team relay event was a YOG-specific format that fits the DNA of this event very well and there are no immediate plans to move it forward onto the Olympic programme," a spokesperson told insidethegames.

"In terms of the timing error, this has nothing to do specifically with the event as this can happen at any competition on any level and our technical officials will review the full event to determine the cause to avoid such occurrences in the future."