Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Follow All The Winter Olympics Action Feb. 6-24 on NBC

Teenage Dream: 5 Young Newcomers Having a Great Winter Olympics

By An Phung
|  Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014  |  Updated 9:45 AM EDT
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    The 2014 Winter Olympics is seeing its fair share of young athletes who are barely old enough to drink or vote. But they have managed to skate, ski and snowboard their way to the world stage in Sochi and some of them are giving more seasoned athletes a run for their medals.

    For the record, the rules state that to be eligible to participate in the Sochi Games, athletes had to be 15 or older in 2013.

    Here are five teenage star athletes competing (and winning) in Sochi.

    Yulia Lipnitskaya, 15
    The Russian figure skater's performance was so dazzling that even Russian President Vladimir Putin took time out to cheer her on at Iceberg Skating Palace on Sunday. Maybe it was the president's vote of confidence, or maybe it's because Lipnitskaya has been training since she was 4 years old, but the young phenom took home the gold, making her the youngest Olympic gold medalist in team figure skating

    Gracie Gold, 18
    Gold helped Team USA clinch bronze on Sunday with a career-best score of 129.36, a mark that was second only to Lipnitskaya. Gold hit all 11 jumps and delivered a flawless routine that (nearly) lived up to her golden name and raised expectations for her next Olympic skate.

    Ayumu Hirano, 15
    Snowboarder Hirano may have finished behind Shaun White in the 2013 Winter X Games, but on Tuesday, the Japanese national nabbed silver and left White in the powder at fourth place. Like Lipnitskaya, the other 15-year-old prodigy on this list, Hirano's passion for his sport started at the age of 4, when he took to the snowboard after dabbling in skateboarding and surfing.

    Justine Dufour-Lapointe, 19
    The Dufour-Lapointe sisters from Canada are a moguls force to be reckoned with, but baby sister Justine took home the gold, beating out the top-ranked Hannah Kearney from Team USA and sisters Chloe, 22, and Maxime, 25. Fortunately, a silver medal for Chloe in the same event was there to curb any sibling rivalry or jealousy.

    Gianina Ernst, 15
    Gianina Ernst never made it to the podium, but the German ski jumper just made the age limit cutoff for the Games. Ernst celebrated her 15th birthday on Dec. 31, making her the youngest athlete at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Ernst comes from a family with pedigree in winter sports: her father in was a competitive ski jumper for West Germany and her mother was a cross country skier for Switzerland at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.

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