The World Para Ice Hockey A-Pool Championships will return to Ostrava, Czech Republic from 1-8 May 2021, as the top eight-ranked teams compete for a world title and qualification slots for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
Ostravar Arena will host the event for the second consecutive time and third time overall after staging the most successful tournament to date in 2019, drawing a record-breaking 64,748 spectators and unprecedented media and broadcast coverage around the world. The city also held the World Championships in 2009.
“World Para Ice Hockey is thrilled to bring the World Championships back to Ostrava, a city where the appetite for Para ice hockey grew exponentially last year in just a matter of days,” said World Para Ice Hockey Manager Michelle Laflamme.
“We are looking to another world-class event that showcases one of the most exciting and fast-paced sports the Paralympic Movement has to offer. It will be another opportunity for people around the world to tune-in and learn about the athletes and teams as we inch closer to the next Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing,” Laflamme added.
The top five finishers at the 2021 World Championships will automatically qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics; the last three finishers will take part in a qualification tournament to be held at a later date to try to earn their spots in Beijing.
The USA will enter the tournament as the defending Paralympic and world champions, having won their record-tying fourth world title last year after Brody Roybal scored the game-winning goal off a pass from Declan Farmer in an overtime thriller in the final. The USA has won four of the last six World Championships.
Reliving the excitement
“Our team is excited to return to Ostrava for the World Championships,” Farmer said. “There was so much excitement around that event when we were there in 2019, and we’re excited for the chance to play for such enthusiastic viewers again, and hopefully with a similar outcome.”
Reigning Paralympic and world silver medallists, Canada, and current Paralympic and world bronze medallists, South Korea, will return, along with host nation Czech Republic, Norway and Italy. The Czech Republic finished a best-ever fourth place at the last World Championships in front of its home fans.
“When I heard the World Championships will return to Ostrava, I couldn't believe it. I wouldn't have expected to ever experience a similar tournament at home again,” said the Czech Republic’s Michal Geier, who was named Most Valuable Player at the last World Championships.
“It’s a huge motivation for me to show off on the ice one more time, stronger and more prepared, and I hope that our entire team will feel the same way. Now, let's hope that the world returns to normal and the tournament can take place as it should. It will be unforgettable once again,” Geier added.
Those six teams will be joined by Russia and Slovakia, which finished in the top two spots at last year’s B-Pool World Championships in Berlin. Russia went undefeated to take gold in Berlin and return to the A-Pool for the first time since 2015. Meanwhile, this will mark the first-ever appearance in the A-Pool for Slovakia.
Centre of sport and culture
With more than 300,000 inhabitants, Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic and the capital of the Moravian-Silesian region.
Originally the steel heart of the republic, it has become the centre of sport and culture in recent years and is home to the Moravian-Silesian Theatre and internationally acclaimed Janacek Philharmoic Orchestra.
The competition venue, Ostravar Arena, was formerly known as the Culture and Sports Palace and was first opened in 1986. It has hosted many national, European and World Championships, as well as concerts and other popular events. The Arena was modernised in 2003 and is home to the HC Vitkovice Steel ice hockey team.
“I am really excited to bring back the World Championships to Ostrava, especially with the Slovakian team playing in Pool A for the first time in history,” said Jiri Sindler, Head of the Local Organising Committee “Me and my organisation are excited to work again on this fabulous event. I look forward to working with the Para ice hockey family and athletes.”