Opening Ceremony - 2013 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championshiups A Pool

Follow the action on Twitter @IPCISH (official hashtag: #Goyang2013) and

The 2013 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool kicked off on Friday (12 April) with a cultural Opening Ceremony in Goyang, Korea.

The sport’s eight best teams will take to the ice over the next eight days to compete for the world title, and the top five finishers will automatically earn a qualification spot for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

At the Opening Ceremony, IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez said: “Having being in Sochi last month, I received a tour of the Shayba Arena, the spectacular 7,000-seat venue built next to the Black Sea, which will stage next year’s competition.

“IPC President Sir Philip Craven described it as ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the Sochi venues and said that if he was an ice sledge hockey player he’d want to take to the ice straight away and get playing.

“Clearly there is a lot to play for here in Goyang, and I wish all teams the very best of luck.”

All games at the Championships will be streamed live on the IPC’s YouTube channel, which also showed the Opening Ceremony live.

USA enter the event as the defending world and Paralympic champions and are already on track to medal in their fourth straight Games in Sochi next year. Led by forward Alexi Salamone and defender Taylor Chance, the Americans have won all their tournaments in the 2012-13 season thus far.

Korea, anchored by Seung-Hwan Jung, won a surprise silver at last year’s event and could be tipped to make the podium again this year as the host nation, with many picking the star-studded Canadian squad led by Greg Westlake to win it all.

Between them, Canada and the USA have won four of the last five World Championship A-Pool events.

With Sergey Smoylov coaching their team, the Russians may also prove themselves contenders in Goyang following their gold-medal performance at the 2012 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B-Pool last November, just two years after starting up their programme.

Other rivalries could also play out in Goyang, with both the Czech Republic and Italy, as well as Norway and Sweden taking part in the Championships.

Check out the form of all eight squads on the Goyang 2013 team previews page.

The event will be the largest in the sport before Sochi 2014 and will take place at the Goyang SPART Complex and Park, organised by the Korea Ice Hockey Association for the Disabled.

It will be the first time an Asian country hosts the World Championships A-Pool.

For more information on the Championships, please visit the 2013 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool website.

You can also follow the action on Twitter @IPCISH and on the ice sledge hockey Facebook page