CALGARY — A dearth of worldwide girls’s hockey is about to get replaced by an abundance of it.
Subsequent month, the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation is anticipated so as to add a girls’s world hockey championship to the identical calendar yr as a Winter Olympics. The lads play a world championship in an Olympic yr, however the girls presently don’t.
“It was the one championship program throughout the IIHF, the one class the place we had no high event in an Olympic yr,” IIHF council member Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer informed The Canadian Press.
A world championship in August 2022, in a location but to be named, would imply three main girls’s tournaments within the span of a yr after two years of meagre worldwide girls’s hockey due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 championship, which was rescheduled and relocated to Calgary in August as a result of Nova Scotia refused to carry the championship in Might, is lower than six months out from February’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The IIHF council proposes returning the ladies’s championship to spring in non-Olympic years.
“The extra programming we are able to add to the schedule the higher,” American ahead Hilary Knight stated. “Clearly these are world-class athletes competing on a world stage.
“A number of emphasis is positioned on the Olympics, however to have a world championship even throughout an Olympic yr is essential.”
For international locations that run a full-time girls’s workforce within the months heading right into a Winter Olympics, it means ramping up preparations once more subsequent summer time for a championship not lengthy after medals are hung round necks in Beijing.
Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of nationwide girls’s applications who received Olympic gold with Canada in 2006 and 2010, is making ready for that shift in 2022.
“If we wish to develop our recreation internationally, we wish to ensure that we’re seen and we constantly play at that top platform, having a world championship yearly is essential,” Kingsbury stated.
“It’s going to be fascinating to see the place they place it within the season. It must be strategic within the quantity of relaxation we offer our athletes. We have to consider the athletes first and ensure it suits of their yearly coaching plan.”
The world championship in Calgary is the primary in over two years. The current lack of worldwide video games has elevated the urge for food amongst gamers for extra sooner or later.
“Each alternative we have now to play hockey, and play video games, we’ll take it,” Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin stated. “It’s been a pair lengthy years for ladies’s hockey to have video games, and to play towards one of the best and to play with one of the best, we’ve been lacking that lots.”
Canada’s assistant captain Brianne Jenner says the place the world championship is inserted into the calendar throughout an Olympic yr is essential to her.
“I’m not fully towards it, however it must be a time that matches the well-being of gamers and one thing that may work throughout the schedule,” she stated.
“Taking a look at this yr, it’s completely different having a world championship and an Olympics in such a short while, and I feel there will probably be loads of opinions on that, however I can let you know proper now as a participant that will get me excited.”
World championship hockey operates like European soccer leagues. Groups beneath the top-tier world championship play for promotion to a better division, and attempt to keep away from relegation to a decrease division.
The IIHF started holding lower-division girls’s championships in an Olympic yr in 2014 to encourage federations who don’t make investments lots in girls’s applications to take action.
Promotion and relegation remained a problem with out the top-tier girls’s championship, nonetheless.
Slovakia earned promotion in 2017, however didn’t qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics and thus needed to wait till 2019 to compete in a high girls’s event.
“It was robust for Division 1 gamers and workers to organize for a world championship the place you’ll be able to’t get promoted,” Kolbenheyer defined.
The pandemic wiping out the 2020 championship, additionally scheduled for Nova Scotia, additional sophisticated the promotion-relegation difficulty.
“COVID pushed us to do it now as a result of subsequent yr we’re going to have a Division 1A event, but when we couldn’t have this high event in August, then they once more received’t have an opportunity at promotion,” Kolbenheyer stated.
Kolbenheyer believes worldwide girls’s hockey has advanced sufficient to accommodate a second main event in an Olympic yr.
“All of us agree throughout the council and throughout the girls’s committee that that is the subsequent step we’re imagined to do to develop our recreation and develop girls’s hockey,” she stated.