BRATISLAVA – On Thursday, right after Team USA crushed Austria by 17-1, it was time for the college hockey expert, Lee Sweatt, to spend 90 seconds with the IIHF Staff. Sweatt played in Finland last year for TPS Turku being the best defenceman of the team (most games, goals and points) and fifth overall in points of all defenders in the Finnish SM-Liiga.
How did you get involved with inline hockey?
I started already when I was 8 years old. My dad recommended this sport to me, since I needed to improve my skating for ice hockey.
Describe the status of inline hockey in your country.
It’s very consistent. In the early 2000s, it was huge! Now the hype is over but I can still see it being a successful and popular sport in the future in the USA. We have one semi-pro league in the USA and we’re hoping to grow that in the future too.
How would you compare ice hockey to inline hockey?
Ice hockey is a lot more physical and faster than inline but I still enjoy inline just as much as I do ice hockey! When I’m completely honest, I think I would have chosen to play pro-inline over pro-ice hockey if there only were professional leagues for inline.
What is the biggest challenge facing inline hockey in the USA in the future?
Keeping young kids in sport! There are a lot of other sports in the USA that attract kids; basketball, American football, lacrosse etc. We need to make sure that we sell inline to the kids the right way.
What are your impressions of Bratislava?
Obviously, it’s very different to any city we have in the USA. I really like it here! I’ve been to Piestany six years ago and liked it just as much. The downtown of Bratislava is very metropolitan and you can see that the city is growing fast! There are new buildings and building sites everywhere one goes.