Zoe Michael Australian Flag Bearer Winter Olympics
Australian alpine skier and ski cross racer Zoe Michael will lead the Australian Team at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Opening Ceremony on Thursday evening in Switzerland.
Seventeen-year-old Michael will lead the 33 Australian elite winter athletes aged 14-17 at this third edition of the Winter YOG, where 1880 athletes from 73 nations will compete over 14 days in 16 winter disciplines.
The Manly-born athlete, now based in Park City, Utah, has grown from learning to ski as a seven-year-old at the Perisher Winter Sports Club to competing in International Ski Federation (FIS) competitions around the world. In just her first year competing on the FIS circuit in 2018, she won Slalom gold at the Rocky Central Championships in Vail Mountain, and qualified for the Australian National Team and the Park City FIS Elite Team.
Australian Chef de Mission, and Vancouver 2010 Olympian, Ramone Cooper, said Michael’s international experience and willingness to embrace the opportunity will assist her in playing a leadership role within the Team.
“Zoe has a lot of international experience under her belt which will not only serve her well in Lausanne, but she can share her knowledge and experience with her Youth Olympic teammates in Switzerland,” Cooper said.
“With her warm and friendly personality and eagerness to join in Team activities, Zoe has a lot of potential to play a role in leading a positive culture within the Team and bridging the gap between the two competition waves.
“Zoe is traditionally an alpine skier, but in accepting the quota place in ski cross as well, it speaks volumes about her willingness to embrace the Youth Olympic experience and take on new challenges, which is what these Games are all about. I congratulate Zoe on this achievement and I have no doubt she will carry the Australian flag proudly during the Opening Ceremony.”
Michael said she was shocked and honoured when she heard the good news.
“I was really surprised when Ramone asked me to be Flagbearer, but also super happy and proud,” Michael said. “When I was younger, I had always wanted to do something like this I never thought I’d actually get to do it.
“I feel like all the effort I put into skiing and the hard work has paid off for me. Being Flagbearer means leading and representing your Team and your country and I’m really excited to do that the best I can.”
Michael joins dual Olympian Greta Small (alpine skiing) and PyeongChang 2018 Olympian Emily Arthur (snowboard halfpipe) in the small group of Australians who have been selected to carry the flag at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Both Small and Arthur started their careers at the YOG before representing Australia at the Winter Olympic Games a few years later. With similar ambitions to the Flagbearers who have come before her, Michael said she is excited to carry on the tradition at the Vaudoise Aréna in the Olympic capital.
“It doesn’t really feel real right now, but I’m super excited to be a part of what Emily and Greta have done before me and to carry on the tradition. I am nervous to wave the flag, so I might need a bit of practice before the Ceremony,” she laughed.
The third edition of the Winter YOG will feature a two-wave competition format, an innovative concept designed to increase hosting capacities with each wave of athletes having a shorter stay in the village. The first wave of competition will take place from the 9 – 15 January, with the second wave kicking off on 16 January until the closing ceremony on the 22 January.
Michael is the only Australian competing across both weeks of the Games, competing in her preferred alpine events during the first week, and embracing the challenge to compete in ski cross during the second week.
“In the alpine, I just want to get out there and do my best. I don’t have any expectations of results as I haven’t competed against most of these girls before, only a few from my competition in America, so if I just do the best of what I’m capable of, I’ll be happy.
“In the ski cross, I just want to get out there and have a go. I don’t usually do much ski cross, but I think lining up against other athletes will bring out my competitive side and make me hungry to do well.”
The Lausanne 2020 Opening Ceremony will kick off at 7.30pm on Thursday January 9 (5.30am Friday Jan 10 AEDT). You can watch the entire ceremony live at olympics.com.au/live-stream.
Discover more about the Lausanne 2020 Winter YOG HERE and meet the 33 young athletes representing Australia HERE.