Arosa in Switzerland will host a Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic qualifier in February 2017 ©IIHF

The Women’s Final Olympic Qualification Group C event for Pyeongchang 2018 will be held in the Swiss town of Arosa in February, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has announced.

The winner of the tournament, due to be staged from February 9 to 12, will guarantee themselves a spot at the first-ever Winter Olympic Games to take place in South Korea.

Hosts Switzerland will head into the event on home ice as the favourites having claimed bronze at Sochi 2014 with a thrilling 4-3 comeback win over Sweden.

Since finishing on the podium two years’ ago, the Swiss have endured a difficult period, however, dropping down to sixth place in the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Ranking.

They will be the top seeds for the Olympic Qualification Group C, which will also include the Czech Republic, Denmark and a qualifier from the Olympic Qualification Preliminary Round.

“We decided to make use of the opportunity to host the Final Olympic Qualification tournament in Switzerland,” said Raeto Raffainer, director of national teams at the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation.

“We want to capitalise on our home-ice advantage and by playing in front of our fans, and some of our players hailing form Arosa might get an additional thrust of motivation.”

The other Final Olympic Qualification Group, featuring Japan, Germany, Austria and a qualifier in the Asian nation during the same four days in February 2017.

Switzerland claimed Olympic bronze at Sochi 2014 with victory over Sweden
Switzerland claimed Olympic bronze at Sochi 2014 with victory over Sweden ©Getty Images

The exact location of the tournament has yet to be decided by the IIHF.

The respective victors of the two competitions will join the United States, Canada, Finland, Russia, Sweden and South Korea.

The five countries all booked their place by finishing in the top five at the 2015 World Championships in Malmö, while South Korea qualified as hosts.

The build-up to the ice hockey tournaments at Pyeongchang 2018 has been dominated by ongoing discussions concerning the participation of National Hockey League (NHL) players in the men’s event.

Negotiations between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), NHL and IIHF continue to stall ahead of a reported deadline of January.

The main issue comes because the IOC were refusing to pay accommodation costs and insurance costs at Pyeongchang 2018.

This is something they had done on all five occasions NHL players have featured since their debut at Nagano 1998.