Turin to host Sochi 2014 ice sledge hockey qualifiers
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
August 14 - Turin, host city of the 2006 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, will stage the Sochi 2014 ice sledge hockey qualifiers, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced today.
The tournament, which is due to take place between October 20 and 26, will be the sport's largest competition ahead of next year's Paralympics and represents the final chance for six nations - hosts Italy, Britain, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Sweden - to book their spots in Russia.
"In the lead-up to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, Torino will host six ice sledge hockey teams fighting to make the sport's top international stage," Keith Blase, the IPC's Ice Sledge Hockey Technical Committee chairman, said.
"Without a doubt all of them will come to Torino hungry to earn a Sochi spot and have the last three years of their training pay off."
Canada, United States - the current Paralympic champions, Russia, Czech Republic and Norway - Vancouver 2010 bronze medallists - all qualified for Sochi 2014 earlier this year by finishing in the top five at the 2013 Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool in Goyang, South Korea.
The Italians, led by Florian Planker and veteran Greg Leperdi (pictured top), just missed out on a direct qualification spot after finishing sixth in Goyang, while South Korea and Sweden, who have competed in every Winter Paralympic ice sledge hockey tournament to date, finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Germany won the World Championships B-Pool in Nagano in March, beating hosts Japan - silver medallists at Vancouver 2010 - for the title.
Britain, meanwhile, have not competed in the sport at a Paralympics since Turin 2006, where they finished in seventh place, and are hopeful of securing a spot at Sochi after winning bronze in Nagano.
Italian Federation of Ice Sports President Giancarlo Bolognini said he is looking forward to welcoming the athletes to the Turin for the crucial tournament.
"It is a big honour for us to host an event as prestigious as this in Torino," he added.
"Despite it having been more than seven years ago, we still remember the magnificent Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games which were held here in Piedmont and the city of Torino in March 2006.
"Torino is again ready to welcome the Paralympic Family with its immense historical and artistic heritage and its excellent sporting facilities."
The Turin 2006 Games attracted nearly 500 athletes from 38 countries across five different sports, and more than 169,900 tickets were sold.
The ice sledge hockey final, which saw Canada defeat Norway for gold, sold out.
April 2013: Norway secures Sochi 2014 place in penalty shoot-out at IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships
April 2013: USA set to face Canada for gold at IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships
April 2013: Norway and Italy set to battle for final Sochi 2014 spot at IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships
April 2013: Four teams secure Sochi 2014 spot at IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships