The Winter Youth Olympics, the second-largest multisport winter event after the Olympic Winter Games, is currently taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

The games are in their third iteration, after Innsbruck 2012 and Lillehammer 2016.

This week Australia got its first three medals of the event in ice hockey, two of which were girls. 

Now many may be asking how can three individual players of two different sexes win ice hockey medals?  Doesn’t ice hockey have seven players on each team?

In an effort to make the youth games more inclusive and diverse, the International Olympic Committee has included a number of mixed events where teams are composed of athletes from various countries. 

This Youth Olympics is the first time ice hockey has a mixed event. The girls' and boys' 3x3 mixed tournament was introduced to incorporate ice hockey players from around the world, including those from developing hockey nations such as Australia.

The event is simple. Each team is composed of thirteen players of different nationalities.  Teams face off with three players plus a goalie from each side on the ice at a time. 

The matches run for three 16 minute periods. Eight teams competed in both the boys and girls tournaments.

Of the 104 female ice hockey players from 43 nations, four were Australian. 

Ebony Brunt of Conder, ACT and Molly Lukowiak of Spearwood, WA represented Australia on two teams that unfortunately did not medal.

Nikki Sharp, a 15-year-old from Karrinyup, WA, who originally learned her hockey skills in Montreal, Quebec where she lived until 2015, was on the team that won bronze.

Courtney Mahoney, a 14-year-old from Upper Mountain Gravatt, QLD - who has only been playing the sport for five years - was on the team which won silver.

Sharp and Mahoney were the second and fourth Australians ever to medal in ice hockey while representing Australia. 

Sharnita Crompton won bronze in the individual skills competition at the 2012 Youth Olympics in Innsbruck. Sai Lake won bronze the same day as both female 2020 Australian medalists, the 15th of January, in the boys 3x3 mixed tournament.