A final individual skills competition qualification phase for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer is due to take place in Vierumaki, Finland, from July 5 to 10, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has announced.
The Global Skills Challenge event will see 39 men and 32 women battle it out for their chance to compete in the discipline, which will see athletes take on a range of individual skills challenges at the Games next year.
It will feature ice hockey youngsters from every part of the world and they will go up against each other in six different events for 15 male and 15 female places for the event in the Norwegian resort.
Argentina, China, Hong Kong, Mongolia, New Zealand and Australia are among the nations who will be represented at the tournament in the Finnish village.
They will compete in fastest lap, shooting accuracy, skating agility, fastest shot, passing precision and puck control events.
The competitors in attendance have themselves already gone through a lengthy process to reach this stage, which began in October, with 39 countries hosting a range of qualification events.
One such country to do so was Norway, although both their players, Sander Hurrod and Millie Rose Sirum, have already qualified by virtue of their nation being the host of next year’s Games.
The skills challenge, an innovative ice hockey discipline designed to attract a larger following to the sport, made its debut at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck.
It allowed countries who don not usually feature in the team men’s and women’s ice hockey competitions at the Games to get their chance to compete on the biggest stage and the skills challenge was one of the best attended at the Games.
Latvia’s Augusts Valdis Vasilonoks won the men’s competition in Innsbruck, while the women’s honours went to Julie Zwarthoed of The Netherlands.
The Skills challenge at Lillehammer 2016 is due be held from February 12 to 21, with the event itself running between the same dates.
January 2012: Tom Degun: Ice hockey skills challenge lacks the magic of 3-on-3 basketball