It’s still a long way until the next Winter Olympics, more than 18 months, and whether British ice hockey will be represented depends on the results of the men’s and women’s national teams in the qualifier events.
But three British women’s national team players had the chance to gain some Olympic experience this summer as they became part of the upcoming Summer Olympics in the British capital of London by participating in the torch relay.
After the torch’s tour had started at Land’s End with British sport greats such as David Beckham and Ben Ainslie, it also landed in the hand of hockey players.
It was Saffron Allen, member of the senior and U18 women’s national team, who was the first to hold the torch when she started carrying it through Kidderminster in May, with the pavements filled by people and British flags.
There she was running, an athlete carrying the Olympic flame. It might have surprised some spectators to hear that she plays ice hockey – a sport that involves just less than 500 female players in the United Kingdom.
A few days later a touch of Olympic spirit came to Sheffield when the torch was at the arena for the playoff weekend of the English women’s ice hockey championship delighting players and fans alike.
Wearing her British jersey with the number 16, Allen skated to centre ice accompanied by Katherine Gale and Monica Petrosino, who would follow by carrying the torch this week.
On 10th July it was the turn of women’s U18 national team Monica Petrosino in Slough followed by Katherine Gale, captain of the women’s U18 national team, member of the women’s senior national team and participant at the Youth Olympic Winter Games, who was carrying the torch through Newbury the day after.
Having three players carrying the torch is a great representation for women’s ice hockey as the sport gets little notice in the country. It was a good start for the new season as the British women’s national team is eyeing Sochi 2014. Although an underdog, the British still have the chance to qualify for the women’s ice hockey tournament of the next Olympic Winter Games – as have 19 other teams entered in the Olympic Qualification.
The British are seeded for the second round and will play in Group E in Shanghai, 8-11 November, against host China, France and a tournament winner from the first round. The winner of the tournament advances to the Final Olympic Qualification with tournaments being staged in February in Bratislava, Slovakia, and Weiden, Germany.
Prior to that event the women’s U18 national team will be the home team of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Qualification in the Scottish city of Dumfries, 27 October to 1 November.
Also the men’s national team is entered in the Olympic Qualification and will enter the stage in the second round in November when it will travel to Nikko to face host Japan, Romania and Korea.
The winner advances to one of the three tournaments of the Final Olympic Qualification that will be hosted in Germany, Latvia and Denmark.