The European Olympic Committees (EOC) has announced the five finalists for the 8th Winter Edition of the Piotr Nurowski Best Young European Athlete Prize, which will be awarded at the 43rd EOC Seminar in Paris on 12 May 2023.
48 European National Olympic Committees (NOC) nominated an athlete between the ages of 14 and 18 for the prize and three of the Finalists were voted for by the NOCs.
The other two Finalists were nominated by an EOC panel of experts with voting for the winner due to take place during the Seminar before an Awards Ceremony in the evening.
The Piotr Nurowski Best Young European Athlete Prize is awarded to an athlete who has excelled in their sport and embodied the Olympic Values both inside and outside of competition over the past year.
The five nominees in alphabetical order are:
1. Ms Mia Brookes (GBR) Snowboarding
2. Mr Eric Canovi (ITA) Ski Mountaineering
3. Ms Nela Lopusanova (SVK) Ice Hockey
4. Ms Oleksandra Merkushyna (UKR) Biathlon
5. Ms Nina Pinzarrone (BEL) Figure Skating
Great British snowboarder Mia Brookes only turned 16 in January and became the youngest ever snowboard World Champion when she won the Slopestyle event in Bakuriani, Georgia in February. She was one of eight riders to earn an invite to the X Games and also became the first women to land a CAB1440 trick.
Eric Canovi has enjoyed a stunning start to 2023 in Ski Moutaineering with the Italian picking up two gold medals at the Winter European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) Friuli Venezia Giuli 2023, the Youth World Cup and in the U18 section at the World Championships respectively.
Slovakian Ice Hockey star Nela Lopusanova has earned plenty of praise for her performances at both the Winter EYOF, winning the player of the tournament award, and in the U18 World Championships, where she was named Most Valuable Player. Lopusanova was already playing in the top flight of women’s Ice Hockey in Slovakia ahead of her 15th birthday in February.
Despite the difficulties faced in her country and her training base in Chernihiv being destroyed, Ukrainian biathlete Oleksandra Merkushyna was able to win the gold medal in the 6km sprint race and the bronze medal in the 10km individual race at the Winter EYOF, as well as second in the super sprint qualification race at the Summer World Championships in Germany.
Nina Pinzarrone made the step up to the senior category in Figure Skating and showed no fear as her season’s best score earned the Belgian fifth place in the ISU European Championships, while she enjoyed success winning the IceLab International Cup and the Dragon Trophy’s junior categories.
The Piotr Nurowski Prize was created by the EOC in 2010 to remember Olympic great Piotr Nurowski, and through his example and his memory encourage young athletes to pursue a career in top class sport, as well as inspire future generations to adopt a healthy lifestyle based on Olympic Values and principles. As well as taking into account an athletes’ performance during the Winter EYOF and other championships, their conduct during events and their engagement with Olympic culture, values and friendship are just as important. It was first awarded to the Best Young European Athlete in 2011 and 2023 marks the eighth time that winter sports have had their own award.