It is fast and it is furious: Para Ice Hockey is known for being one of the top attractions at the Paralympic Winter Games. But what might you not know about it?
1. Para Ice Hockey is a mixed sport. Two female players have competed at a Winter Paralympics: Bri Mjaasund Oejen from Norway was the first at Lillehammer 1994. Lena Schroeder, also from Norway, took to the ice at PyeongChang 2018.
Lena Schroeder at PyeongChang 2018 Ⓒ Joel Marklund for OIS/IOC
2. The first publicly recorded ice hockey game was played in Montreal, Canada, in the late 1800s, but its origins are believed to go back as far as the early part of the century.
3. A direct descendant, Para Ice Hockey was invented at a rehabilitation centre in Stockholm, Sweden, in the 1960's by a group of Swedes with disabilities who wanted to continue playing the sport.
4. Perhaps fittingly, it was then Sweden who won the first Paralympic title on the sport’s debut some three decades later at Lillehammer 1994.
Ⓒ Lillehammer 1994
5. Para Ice Hockey is played by athletes with physical impairments in the lower part of their body. Players may have amputations affecting their legs, stiffness of the ankle or knee joint, or a leg length difference of at least 7cm. Some players also have muscle weakness in their legs, for example due to paraplegia.
6. The rules of the game are the same as able-bodied ice hockey, with some modifications. Instead of skates, players sit in double-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. They also use two sticks, which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.
Ⓒ Karl Nilsson/Parasport Sverige
7. Made of vulcanized rubber, the puck is 2.54cm thick, with a diameter of 7.62cm and weighs 156 to 170 grams. Pucks are frozen before games, to help them travel across the ice surface. Top players can hit the puck at speeds of up to 100 km/h.
8. The USA are the most successful Para ice hockey team, having won four golds including the last three.
Ⓒ Getty Images
9. Steve Cash, who recently announced his retirement, is the most decorated Para ice hockey player. Cash has played in four of the USA’s medal-winning campaigns amounting to three golds and one bronze.
Ⓒ Getty Images
10. At the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, Para Ice Hockey will be played at the National Indoor Stadium – the same venue which hosted wheelchair basketball at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.