After the thrills, noise, and all-in excitement of the mixed nations 3-on-3 event, ice hockey returns to the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games on Friday with six-team tournaments for men and women.
Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland will contest the women’s event, with Canada, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Switzerland and the United States in the men’s.
While more than 40 National Olympic Committees, including nations with little ice hockey experience such as New Zealand, Mexico and Qatar, were represented in the 3-on-3 events (pictured above), the six-team tournaments showcase the elite players of junior ice hockey.
One last look back at the @lausanne2020 Youth Olympic 3-on-3 cross-ice ice hockey tournaments, which brought dozens on athletes from the ice hockey family together in an unforgettable event. Story: https://t.co/O3AaTZUhqJ pic.twitter.com/y2MDoyT1mK— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 16, 2020
Luc Tardif, the Lausanne 2020 ice hockey men’s tournament chairman and a council member of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said the Games provided his sport a rare opportunity to present both new and traditional competition formats.
“The 3-on-3 events were right in keeping with the spirit of the Youth Olympic Games,” Tardif said. “It gave players of different abilities and from so many different nations an opportunity to have an unforgettable experience.
Hometown favourites of the day: dozens of schoolkids cheered #HopSuisse as the Swiss🇨🇭 women's team came for the team photo followed by a practice at the #Lausanne2020— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 16, 2020
More from the #YouthOlympics: https://t.co/pFsnG8xXR7
📷 Vedran Galijas pic.twitter.com/n6O2HKiAhh
“Now, the six-team tournaments also allow us to showcase traditional ice hockey. This is the third Youth Olympic Games for the sport and the standard of play keeps getting better and better. The level of play here will be unbelievable.”
In the women’s event, Sweden are aiming for a third consecutive Winter YOG gold medal, having won at Innsbruck in 2012 and Lillehammer in 2016.
Felicity Luby, who is 15 and will play for Germany in the women’s tournament after competing in the 3-on-3 event, said: “For a goalkeeper, the 3-on-3 games were very quick.
“There were always players close to the net. Now there is again more space and more players on the ice, and there will be more chances for us to control the puck.”
The United States are the defending champions in the men’s event after Finland won gold in 2012.
In each event, the teams are divided into two groups of three. After round-robin group play, the two top sides will advance to the semifinals.
The women’s medal finals will be played on 21 January, while the men’s take place a day later.