ZURICH – The IIHF Council – the federation’s 13-member executive body – has confirmed that the ice hockey tournaments (men’s and women’s) at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia 2014 will be played on international-sized rinks measuring 60 metres by 30 metres, as opposed to the North American (60 x 26).
The ice hockey tournaments in Vancouver 2010 were the first Olympics which were played on North American-sized rinks.
“This decision was not as obvious as it may have been some years ago,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “In our thorough evaluation of Vancouver 2010 we received very positive feedback about playing on the small surface and the IIHF has today recognized both surfaces as fitting for international hockey.”
“Nowadays, all IIHF events which are hosted by American or Canadian organizers, may it be the World U20 Championship or the World Women’s, are played on small rinks as this is the North American tradition and if you play in Canada or in the United States you play on the existing rinks and we no longer ask the organizer to widen the rink to conform with international standard,” said Fasel.
“Conversely, when an IIHF-sanctioned event takes place in Europe, we should acknowledge the custom on this continent. This is really the prime reason for the decision. What we know today from our extensive research dating back to 1972 is that ice size does not benefit one hockey style over another. The experience shows that the best team wins regardless of which rink you play on. So this decision carries nothing political, the reason is solely based on respecting the tradition and also practicality.”
The last Olympic tournament in North America before Vancouver – Salt Lake City 2002 – was played on a large surface.
Since 1972, the IIHF has organized or sanctioned 27 different tournament or championships in North America that have all been played on a small surface.
Qualification for Sochi 2014
The 2012 IIHF World Ranking (for both men and women), as calculated at the conclusion of the 2012 IIHF Men’s and Women’s World Championship, will determine the teams which will earn automatic entry to the 2014 Olympic Ice Hockey Tournaments.
For the men’s 12-team Olympic tournament, the top nine teams in the 2012 IIHF Men’s World Ranking will earn automatic entry to Sochi 2014, while the three remaining teams will earn participation through the Olympic qualifications.
For the women’s 8-team Olympic tournament, the top five teams in the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Ranking will earn automatic entry to Sochi 2014, while two teams will earn participation through the Olympic qualifications. Host nation Russia, currently sixth in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking, will have direct entry to the tournament.
The 2012 IIHF World Championship will be co-hosted by Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden, while the 2012 IIHF World Women’s Championship will take place in Burlington (Vermont), USA.