For the 2014 Winter Olympics, the youngest athletes span between the ages of 14 and 17. Many of these athletes were introduced to their sport when they were as young as four.
It's amazing what these young teens have accomplished in their life so far and even more amazing that they can add Sochi to that growing list.
Take a look at our gallery of the youngest athletes from around the world who are competing at Sochi!
10 of the youngest athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics
Ben Tudhope, 14
Hometown: Manly, NSW
Although Ben Tudhope was born with cerebral palsy hemiplegia, that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams of entering the Winter Olympics. At the young age of 10, Tudhope took up snowboarding and four years later competed at the 2013 European Cup. Tudhope's success at the Cup allowed him to qualify for the Sochi Games as part of Australia’s Paralympic Team.
This amazing 14-year-old hopes to be a professional snowboarder one day so that he can inspire other people with a disability to pursue sports.
Read more: Ben Tudhope
Gianina Ernst, 15
Sport: Ski jumping
Gianina Ernst is the youngest athlete at the 2014 Winter Olympics, since she just turned 15 on December 31, 2013. Ernst first took up the sport when she was 8 years old. Four years later, she experienced her first success when she won the Swiss championships. She was 12 years old at the time. Then in December 2013, Ernst came in second at the Lillehammer World Cup, which was the best a female German ski jumper has ever done at a World Cup event. The success allowed Ernst to qualify for Sochi.
Read more: Gianina Ernst
Yulia Lipnitskaya, 15
Sport: Figure Skating
Yulia Lipnitskaya always had an interest in skating and gymnastics. She took her first steps (or glides I should say) on the rink at the age of 4. Amazingly, the 15-year-old now holds the title of Master of Sport of International Class in Russia. Also, it’s interesting to note that Lipnitskaya is so young that she made the minimum age cutoff for the Winter Olympics by just 26 days!
Read more: Yulia Lipnitskaya
Gabrielle Daleman, 16
Sport: Figure skating
Hometown: Newmarket, ON
Gabrielle Daleman started skating at the young age of four when her parents enrolled her in CanSkate. So far, the skater is a 2013 Canadian Championship Silver Medalist and a 2012 Canadian Junior Champion. Her favourite motto is, “Play like you’re in first, but train like you’re in second.”
Read more: Gabrielle Daleman
Ayumu Hirano, 15
Hometown: Murakami, Niigata
Ayumu Hirano owes his brother Eiju thanks for getting him into snowboarding. At the age of four, Hirano followed his brother into the sport and tried snowboarding for the first time. Impressively, in 2013, Hirano became the youngest winner of the overall halfpipe competition at the World Snowboard Tour. The only downside is that balancing training with school is difficult at Hirano’s young age. He told the Denver Post, “My school is very supportive of my snowboarding, so they make it happen for me.”
Read more: Ayumu Hirano
Alina Muller, 15
Sport: Ice hockey
Hometown: Lengnau, AG
At just 15-years-old, Alina Muller is one of the youngest athletes to compete for Switzerland at Sochi. Muller plays forward on her ice hockey team and in 2103, she won a silver medal at the U18 World Championships. Her brother Mirco Muller is a professional ice hockey player in the NHL. It seems hockey runs in the Muller bloodline.
Read more: Alina Muller
- United States
Ty Walker, 16
Hometown: Stowe, Vermont
Ty Walker was introduced to snowboarding by her family, who often took weekend trips to the slopes when she was young. By age 14, Walker won first place at USASA Nationals in the Open Class Division and in 2011 won the Roxy Powder Jam at Mammoth Mountain, CA. Following this she took a break from competing in order to train hard for a spot at Sochi. With so much talent, of course she made it!
Read more: Ty Walker
Seamus O’Connor, 16
Hometown: Park City
Irish snowboarder Seamus O’Connor began snowboarding at a young age, but didn’t make his debut until 2010. He became the first Irish halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarder to be chosen for an Olympic Winter Games after it was announced that he would be part of the Ireland team at Sochi.
Interestingly, O’Connor was born in the US, but was eligible to represent either Russia or Great Britain in the games thanks to his parents. But since both his grandparents were born in Ireland, he decided to represent them instead.
Read more: Seamus O’Connor
- Czech Republic
Elizaveta Ukolova, 15
Sport: Figure skating
Elizaveta Ukolova was introduced to figure skating when she was seven-years-old. In her career so far, Ukolova has competed twice at the World Junior Championships and has received a 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy, which allowed her to qualify for Sochi. Ukolova spends most of her time training, but when she’s not, she can be found playing other sports or reading.
Read more: Elizaveta Ukolova
- South Korea
Shim Suk-hee, 17
Sport: Short track speed skater
Suk-hee Shim has rightfully earned the nickname “Next Generation Skating Queen.” In 2012, Shim broke the 1000m world record and won three gold medals at the World Cup event in Calgary, Alberta. Now the newly turned 17-year-old skater is competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics! Shim originally started speed skating at the age of seven after she was influenced by her brother. It is obvious now that Shim will go far in her career.
Read more: Suk-hee Shim