The Winter Youth Olympic Games will be hosted for the first time ever in 2012, from January 13 to 22 in Innsbruck and Seefeld, Austria. Ice hockey will be represented with two men’s and two women’s events in Innsbruck.
Ten teams go for gold
There will be five teams each in the men’s and women’s tournaments. Four teams for each tournament from eight different nations were selected according to a combined men’s and women’s world ranking that was established after the 2011 IIHF World Championship in May. Austria as the host nation will be awarded one male team and one female team to participate in each of the tournaments.
The participating teams are:
Boys: Canada, Finland, USA, Russia, Austria (host)
Girls: Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Austria (host)
Introducing the Skills Challenge
Besides the team tournaments, an individual Skills Challenge for women and men will be held for the very first time at Olympic Games. In this event, the best 15 female and 15 male athletes from nations other than the ones in the tournaments are allowed to compete as well as athletes from the host country Austria. The participants were qualified from a global qualification program based on a series of individual skill tests designed by the IIHF. The qualification came to an end in July 2011 in Vierumäki, Finland.
The following Skills Challenge competitions will be held at the Youth Olympics:
- Fastest Lap
- Shooting Accuracy
- Skating Agility
- Hardest Shot
- Passing Precision
- Puck Control
Videos, participants and more information on the Skills Challenge competitions can be found here.
More than sports
A total of 200 ice hockey players will participate in the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games – 170 in the tournaments (17 per team) and 30 in the skills challenge. The players that will be eligible for competing are male athletes born in 1996 and female athletes born in 1994.
Innsbruck 2012 will showcase over 1,000 young athletes representing around 80 countries in the seven sports on the programme: biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing.
The vision for the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games is of an event that merges sport, culture and education. The Culture & Education Programme forms the counterpart to the sport events and is an important element in the concept for the Games. This programme will be a memorable and inspiring experience for the athletes, team officials and the youth of the host country. The Culture & Education Programme, which has been planned in detail with young people in mind, intends to engage and inspire participants to be true champions and to embrace, embody and express the Olympic Values of Excellence, Respect and Friendship.
Ambassadors & Athlete Role Models
Five ambassadors were named for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Canadian Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby was named from ice hockey. The other ambassadors are figure skater Yuna Kim (South Korea), Alpine skiers Lindsey Vonn (USA) and Benjamin Raich (Austria), and freestyle skier Kevin Rolland (France).
All of the young Olympians will also benefit from the presence of Athlete Role Models, who will attend the competitions, visit the Youth Olympic Village and feature in “Meet the Role Models” forums designed to inspire and educate the participants with personal accounts of their own experiences. The Athlete Role Models chosen for the ice hockey event will be Olympians Jennifer Botterill and Angela Ruggiero.
Botterill, one of only four Canadians to take part in all four Olympic women’s ice hockey tournaments and a three-time Olympic gold medallist, played 184 games in a Team Canada jersey, recording 65 goals and 109 assists for 174 points.
Ruggiero is a three-time World Champion and a leader of the U.S. Women’s Hockey National Team. Having played in four Olympics (winning one gold, two silvers, and one bronze) and ten World Championships, she currently holds the record as all-time leader in games played for Team USA. Ruggiero is also a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and of the Evaluation Committee for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.
Men's Ice Hockey Tournament
Aicher, Simon (GER)
Gavrilenko, Andrei (BLR)
Ansons, Andris (LAT)
Hoppe, Benjamin (GER)
Halm, Stian (NOR)
Pahor, Tilen (SLO)
Harnebring, Andreas (SWE)
Persson, Daniel (SWE)
Smeibidlo, Martin (AUT)
Women's Ice Hockey Tournament
Findurova, Zuzana (SVK)
Dvorakova, Nikola (CZE)
Ketonen, Kaisa (FIN)
Gruber, Mirjam (ITA)
Mallette, Meghan (CAN)
Hui, Wang (CHN)
Morris, Ceci (USA)
Tanhua, Taru (FIN)
Viskum, Trine (DEN)