July 6 - Skier Ramone Cooper (pictured) has today been appointed by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) as a young ambassador for the team that will compete at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games which take place in Innsbruck next year.
The 23-year-old from New South Wales, who made his Olympic debut at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games last year where he competed in moguls, will now be heavily involved in mentoring Australia's outstanding young winter athletes in Innsbruck as they take on over 1,000 of the world's best competitors aged between 14 and 18-years-old.
"I'm really excited and honoured to be working with the future of Australian winter sports and to help them learn about the Olympic ideals and values," said Cooper.
"The Winter YOG is a benchmark event where you can test your ability and skills against the world's best.
"It is a good opportunity for these emerging athletes to realise their potential and provide them with some experience to hopefully be successful in future Olympic Games."
Australian Winter Youth Olympic Team Chef de Mission Alisa Camplin, who won Winter Olympic gold at the Salt Lake City 2002 Games in aerial skiing and bronze in the event at the Turin 2006 Games, made the appointment of Cooper and stated that he was the outstanding candidate for the post.
"Selection for the WYOG Ambassador role was very competitive," Camplin said.
"Of the many passionate and skilled candidates, Ramone stood out for his long term aspirations within the Olympic Winter Sports Community and his dedication to the athlete development pathway."
"Ramone will be a great Ambassador for our winter Olympic youth.
"Not only has he experienced the highs and lows of being a regular winter Olympic athlete himself, but he also coaches and mentors many young athletes across the newer snow sport disciplines.
"Along with myself, Ramone will bring his own experiences as an athlete to the WYOG team.
"We aim to nurture and guide our future Olympic talent, creating an open and supportive team environment in Innsbruck."
On her own role as Chef de Mission of the Australian team at the 2012 Youth Olympics, Camplin (pictured) said: "Leading the Australian Youth Olympic Team in Innsbruck is a great honour.
"I hope our athletes will come away with a positive experience that fuels their thirst for Olympic success on the biggest stage."
Meanwhile Cooper, who retired after Vancouver 2010, finished his sports management studies and is now instrumental in the future of Australian winter sports in his role as the National Pathways Coordinator for Ski and Snowboard Australia.
"My experience as an athlete and my role with Ski and Snowboard Australia puts me in a position where I can help athletes prepare and mentor them on strategies to deal with the stresses of competition as big as the Youth Olympics," he added.
The Young Ambassador Programme is an International Olympic Committee (IOC) initiative with only 30 Olympic Committees from around the world asked to participate.
New events on the programme for Sochi 2014 will be contested at Innsbruck 2012, including slopestyle and ski jumping for women, while Australia expects to qualify 15-17 athletes across 11 disciplines.
Selection announcements will be made over the coming months with the final Australian Team announced in December ahead of the event itself which takes place from January 13-22.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]