Innsbruck 2012 Volunteer Kick-Off: “Where there is much light, the shadow is deep

IYOGOC Press Release: “Where there is much light, the shadow is deep,” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously said. That is why Monday night’s Innsbruck 2012 Volunteer Kick Off in the Olympia world in Innsbruck saw the spotlight turned on all those who are usually working away in the shadows in order to allow the athletes themselves to shine – the over 1,400 Volunteers of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games!

“Having the most beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities doesn’t mean anything without Volunteers to make the Winter Youth Olympic Games an unforgettable experience. We should be very grateful to them,” said Vice Provincial Governer of Tyrol, Hannes Gschwentner. Mayor of Innsbruck, Christine Oppitz-Plörer, also praised the Volunteers: “It is really impressive to see how many people of all ages want to help make Innsbruck 2012 an unforgettable experience. They deserve huge respect.”

Right at the centre of attention on Monday night was a very special group of five Volunteers who will complete a unique hat-trick in January 2012 when they become part of the Olympic Games for the third time.

As an eight-year-old, Dr Brigitte Zerlauth (63) idolised Austrian skiing legend Toni Sailer, and at the 1964 Winter Olympics she finally got to meet her hero in her role as a Volunteer selling sausages. Twelve years later, in 1976, she supported the Games by carrying out and analysing tests for the Medical Services team. In 2012 she will accompany and look after the Youth Olympic delegation from Monaco.

In 1976, Helmut Figallo (68) sent the home fans into raptures by measuring the decisive jump which secured gold and silver for Austria’s Karl Schnabl and Toni Innauer in the ski jumping event.  Next year he will use his experience and know-how to support the Innsbruck 2012 Transport team.

Ice hockey fan Hermann Kuntner’s fascination for the Olympic Games began as a child, and in 1976 he was lucky enough to be given a hockey stick by the goaltender of the victorious Russian team – a memento which today still has pride of place in his home. For the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games he will once again return to the Olympiaworld ice hockey stadium to offer his support as a Volunteer.

Herbert Herwig, on the other hand, is a skiing fanatic. After working as a course marshall in Wildmoos in 1964 and as race secretary twelve years later in Seefeld, the Innsbruck local has helped create the course plans for Innsbruck 2012. Olympic fever seems to run in the Herwig family – Herbert’s brother also worked as a Volunteer in 1984, when he led the Greek delegation into the stadium at the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics.

The fifth and oldest member of this elite group is Adalbert “Wett” Mayregger (83). The businessman from Igls near Innsbruck has continued his family’s love of luge throughout his life, as a judge in 1964, an equipment inspector in 1976 – and through his work with the Austrian Luge Federation at the Olympic Sliding Centre Innsbruck in 2012! His sons, as well as his mother were all Austrian champions in luge. One of his sons also took part in the Sarajevo Olympics.

“Wett” himself has been involved in luge since 1946 and, among other things, trained the Taiwanese national luge team for 18 years. His impressive sporting CV also includes working as a coach or judge at no fewer than nine Olympic Games.

“On behalf of everyone I would like to thank these five role models and all the other Volunteers who will help us show the world that Tyrol is an Olympic champion when it comes to organising events.  We will give the athletes and all our guests a very warm welcome and make them feel at home. I am convinced that these will be fantastic Games,” explained Günther Platter, underlining the importance of the 1,400 Volunteers in making Innsbruck 2012 a success.

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