"I hope other countries will recognise this opportunity and start their own women’s sledge hockey team."
It could not have been a better year for ice sledge hockey – which is why its progress has been highlighted as the No. 45 Moment of 2014, as the IPC continues its top 50 countdown.
After garnering global attention at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, initiatives were introduced to make the sport even more attractive to fans and help countries develop their game.
The IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Series was launched to bring together internationals and incorporate new fixtures for A and B-pool teams in order to formalise the calendar.
The World Series kicked off with the Four Nations tournament in Langenhagen, Germany, in November.
The Czech Republic immediately took the lead in the rankings, showing their form ahead of the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool in Buffalo, New York, between 24 April - 2 May.
IPC Ice Sledge Hockey is currently finalising the calendar for the World Series, with countries submitting their fixtures for the rest of the season.
Women on ice
The development of the women’s game joins the World Series as another major step forward for the sport in 2014.
In November, teams from the USA, Canada and Europe gathered in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, for the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey International Women’s Cup, marking the very first competition for women to be sanctioned by the sport.
The event was widely followed on social media and proved to be popular amongst fans.
Canada’s top scorer Ashley Goure said: “The response amongst the fans has been amazing. Before games people would approach us and wish us luck and after games people would come congratulate us on either our win or our efforts. There was a great turn-out of fans that came out to support us during all of our games.
“All teams played intensely and showed determination and their love for their sport. I hope other countries will recognise this opportunity and start their own women’s sledge hockey team.
“When I look back on this moment in a few years, the memory that will stand out most for me will be the amazing group of people I got to share this experience with.”
The USA took an historic victory against the hosts in the final, with Kelsey Diclaudio the lead scorer. Europe played with great heart throughout despite at one point only fielding six players.
Mapping road to PyeongChang
After Sochi, IPC Ice Sledge Hockey announced the men’s competition cycle until the next Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018. In 2015 this includes the A-Pool World Championships in Buffalo, in the back garden of Paralympic champions the USA, and the B-Pool World Champs, confirmed for Ostersund, Sweden, between 15-21 March.
In 2016 and 2018 there will be C-Pool World Championships, and 2017 will see the A-Pool and B-Pool Worlds take place once again as well as the qualification tournament for PyeongChang 2018.
The year also saw Croatia sign-up to the Ottobock Equipment Loaner Programme to develop ice sledge hockey nationally, joining Norway and Italy in the scheme.
Visit the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2014 campaign page for more information.