Lara Stalder: Beyond The Ice | Issue 4
by Ameeta VOHRA|15 DEC 2023
photo: © Valentin STUDERUS
December marks the end of the year, but really just the start of the season ramp up for the national team. I’m already feeling pumped and I’m excited to represent Switzerland again in December.
Since August, with the national team, we have started fresh and have been building our new team identity. Once we hit the ice in Sweden for the Five Nations tournament, we’ll get to work on that identity and prepare for the upcoming IIHF Women’s World Championship in 2024.
What is our identity? That’s a good question, and it’s not just about showing it in one tournament.  We’ve been working together – players, coaches, staff – to really be creative in this process. Regardless of what we come up with, we’ll all be able to stand behind the it.
So what does Swiss Women’s Hockey stand for?
Perception is everything, and our identity is not that new. Whether it’s players, coaches, or personnel, we ALL represent what Swiss Hockey is.
It’s the passion we have for the sport. It’s more than just a job.
There is a lot of dedication and sacrifice to play for our country.
But it’s also about togetherness and camaraderie – the friendships and bonds we form that go beyond a game which is the building block of trust.
Each person brings different perspectives, circumstances, and lifestyles. It represents the strength of Swiss hockey.
We are a group that has fun and works well with our emotions. We understand our role and feel comfortable.
Everyone brings out the best in each other and cares about the team.  When all this comes together, Swiss magic is created on the ice.
As a veteran on the national team, I recognize that the younger players look up to me.  I want to lead by example, but representing your country is contagious and not something that requires leadership.  I hope they embrace the opportunity to put on Switzerland’s jersey.
I also want them to soak up this opportunity because 10 years ago, we didn’t even have this opportunity to play the best teams in Europe.  Now, we have this chance with the 5 Nations Tournament and many others.
However, we can’t be complacent. We need to stay on our toes because our competition won’t be sleeping. They will be wide awake so we need to find a way to show that we can compete with them. That means constant improvement to prove to other nations that we belong there.
We want to show the world that Switzerland belongs on the same stage as Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Czechia.
As the 5 Nations tournament gets underway, I’m excited to have the chance to reunite with some of my former Swedish teammates I played with in Brynas. I am also friends with many of the Czech players, like goaltender Klara Peslarova. A year after she underwent surgery for a torn ACL, Klara began her comeback.  She played an outstanding game against Lulea a few weeks ago and is stronger than ever. I look forward to playing against her.
While Switzerland recognizes we cannot change the world in a week, we can take steps and have fun while doing that.

Appreciating Tournaments

As I play in the Five Nations tournament, there is one thing that I will appreciate more than ever. That's the hard work and planning that goes into hosting a tournament.
I gained this appreciation after organizing Helsinki’s recent visit to play our team in November, as well as organizing the European tournament in October , and since August, I have been part of the local organizing committee that is doing all the planning and logistics for the upcoming IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
I used to take for granted how much goes into an event.  In my role with the organizing committee, I answer questions that come up or steer people in the right direction to look for the answer. It’s a lot more work than most realize.
For me, one of my challenges has been the newness of the role with the organizing committee. No one gave me a guide or book to follow. 
I have had to learn by doing things.  I also had to take responsibility for tasks. If something is not running smoothly, I have to speak up and say something. Our team works collaboratively and are always looking for ways to help each other and jump in when necessary. Even if I don’t have the answer, I can lead someone in the right direction.
When I organized the recent game against Helsinki, I tackled some interesting questions. I learned about how even small changes can turn into big security concerns. I find it so interesting working with other departments on these topics, and while it can be frustrating at times, it’s good to know there’s always a reason behind the decisions we make.
The one great thing I bring to the organizing committee is a unique perspective. It comes down to fresh ideas based on how I felt as a player.  If a player did not notice or complain about something, then it meant that it was a successful tournament.
As we are within a month of welcoming the world to Zug, the goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly.  If everyone is happy, we have done our job.
I hope that fans will fill the stands and soak in the energetic atmosphere. I also hope they witness Swiss hockey's greatness and feel our identity.