By Tom Degun

Lindsey_Vonn_10-04-11April 9 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announce that American Alpine skier and Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn will take a leading role in mentoring athletes at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Austria by becoming the first ever Ambassador.

Vonn's appointment follows the success of the iconic Summer Youth Olympic Games Ambassadors Usain Bolt of Jamica, Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia and Michael Phelps of America who supported last year's inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

"I have been skiing since I was two-years-old so I know the importance of strong role models," said Vonn, who won gold in women's downhill event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

"When I first met my hero, Picabo Street, it was a huge thrill and an unforgettable moment for me.

"She inspired me to become what I am today.

"If I can have even half that effect on some of the young athletes I come into contact with, it will be worth it.

"I'm really looking forward to it."

The 26-year-old will encourage young people around the globe to become more active in sport in her role as Ambassador for the Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games, which will take place from January 13-22, 2012.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said: "It is a terrific thing to have such an iconic and successful winter athlete — not to mention a three-time Olympian - on board to mentor the athletes at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games and encourage kids around the world to take up sport.

"Lindsey is not only a great champion, she has a great personality, a warm heart and she knows what it means to give the best of yourself in whatever you do.

"She is sure to have a positive and lasting impact on the young people she interacts with."

Vonn received the Laureus World Sports Awards Sportswoman of the Year for 2010 and was the first American woman to win three consecutive overall World Cup and downhill championships which she did in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Meanwhile Innsbruck 2012 will attract over 1,000 top athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 from roughly 70 countries.

The seven sports on the programme for Innsbruck 2012 include: biathlon mixed relay, luge team relay, ski halfpipe, snowboard slopestyle, figure skating mixed team event, ice hockey skills challenge and women's ski jumping.

In addition to mixed gender events, there will also be mixed National Olympic Committee competitions.

All the athletes will also participate in a Culture and Education Programme (CEP) featuring fun and engaging activities designed to provide guidance on a wide range of topics, including Olympic values, the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle, and the prevention of sports injuries, among others.

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