Dave Holland / COC
Dave Holland / COC

Youth Olympic Games champions in pairs figure skating selected as Team Canada’s Gangwon 2024 Closing Ceremony Flag Bearers

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA (January 31, 2024) – On Wednesday, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Annika Behnke (Peace River, Alta.) and Kole Sauve (Edmonton, Alta.) as Team Canada’s Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Closing Ceremony flag bearers. Lisa Weagle, Team Canada’s Gangwon 2024 Chef de Mission, shared the news with the skaters earlier today, following a training session to prepare for the upcoming figure skating team event that will happen hours before the closing ceremony.

Fourteen-year-old Behnke and 16-year-old Sauve made history as the first-ever figure skaters from Team Canada to win a gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games. They also are the first Canadian figure skaters to win an individual medal at the YOG.

“It feels amazing, I am really honoured that Team Canada has chosen us to be the Closing Ceremony Flag Bearers. It’s been an amazing experience here at the Youth Olympic Games, and I am so proud that we will carry the flag,” said Behnke.

“It’s a very special honour. Thank you so much to Team Canada for selecting us. This experience has been incredible, and we will remember this for the rest of our lives,” added Sauve.

Behnke and Sauve led after the short program, where they were the only team in the event to attempt a throw triple loop instead of the easier throw double loop. Two days later, they made history and won the Youth Olympic Games pairs title by more than 15 points. The pair showed incredible mental strength when Behnke took a fall on the approach to the twist element. Sauve did not let go of his partner, and after a split-second reset, the team still went for the twist. Following that, the skaters successfully executed all their elements, highlighted by two successful side-by-side triple jumps, while every other team in the event attempted easier side-by-side double jumps.

The team won bronze at Skate Canada’s 2023 National Skating Championships at the novice level, before making their debut at the junior level earlier this season. In 2023, Behnke also competed at the Canada Winter Games in women’s singles, and Sauve competed at the novice nationals in men’s singles. 

“Congratulations to Annika and Kole on this special honour of being selected to carry the maple leaf for Team Canada into the Gangwon 2024 closing ceremony,” said Lisa Weagle, Team Canada’s Gangwon 2024 Chef de Mission. “The strength and resilience they showed in the performance that won them a historic gold in pairs figure skating is an inspiration and a shining example of the Olympic spirit. They have a bright future ahead of them, and I can’t wait to see how they’ll apply what they’ve learned during their Youth Olympic Games experience as they continue their sport journeys. We are so proud of you, Annika and Kole.”

“Annika and Kole’s performances were among the most memorable moments from these Games which have been an amazing developmental experience for these young Canadian athletes,” said Eric Myles, COC Chief Sport Officer. “We are so proud of this delegation and to see it being led into the Closing Ceremony by this pair of young rising stars is the perfect way to cap Gangwon 2024.”

Behnke and Sauve will carry the maple leaf into the closing ceremony of Gangwon 2024 on Thursday, February 1 at 8:00pm local time / 6:00am EST.

As the official Gangwon 2024 broadcaster in Canada, CBC/Radio-Canada will provide coverage of the Games on, and the CBC Sports app. The Olympic Channel also has coverage of Gangwon 2024, live-streamed on their free app.

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Tara MacBournie, Team Canada’s Gangwon 2024 Communications Lead
Canadian Olympic Committee
WhatsApp: 647-522-8328

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