By David Gold

Ben Berend_AJ_Brown_Yoggl_Emilee_Anderson_and_coach_Greg_Crawford_10-10-11October 14 - Fifteen athletes have been nominated by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) to participate in the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck.

The inaugural Winter Youth Olympics take place from January 13 next year, and the American competitors will join more than 1,000 other athletes from 80 countries competing in a number of winter sports.

Vice-president of the USSA Luke Bodensteiner said: "The Winter Youth Olympic Games will provide these young athletes an opportunity to experience the Olympic Values of excellence, friendship and respect.

"Their ability to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games is a testament to the outstanding club programmes and their ability to create an environment of athletic success."

Selection was based on results from competitions such as the US Snowboarding Grand Prix, Revolution Tour and World Junior Championships.

Alex Leever and Mikaela Shiffrin will compete in alpine skiing, whilst Patrick Caldwell and Heather Mooney will be in action in the cross-country.

Ben Berend (pictured left) has won a place in the Nordic combined, with Aaron Blunck and Jeanne Crane-Mauzy in the halfpipe skiing.

Skicross competitors will be Grant Ketels and Lesley Wilson, while in the ski jumping Emilee Anderson (pictured second from right) and AJ Brown (pictured second from left) have been nominated.

Ben Ferguson and Arielle Gold are in action in the snowboarding halfpipe, and in snowboarding slopestyle Max Raymer and Indigo Monk will be the American representatives.

The 15 will join 45 other American youngsters selected by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in the Austria city.

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