On August 27, 2013 at the Shayba Arena in Sochi, the International Ice Sledge Hockey Tournament "Four Nations" kicked off - the last of the Sochi 2014 Olympics Test Events competitive schedule. The tournament is held by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, in conjunction with the International Paralympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee.
In the first game day of the group stage of the competition, two matches were held.
The current world champions from Canada beat the national team of the Czech Republic – 3:1 (1:0, 0:0, 2:1). In turn, the Norway team triumphed over Russia – 3:2 (1:1, 1:0, 1:1).
Once the games had finished, the tournament participants shared their impressions of past matches and the organization of the tournament.
Greg Westlake, forward (CAN)
On the game and the environment:
"It’s a beautiful venue, and it is fun to be here. I think in the third period we had a good period, so we are really looking forward to playing tomorrow. Everyone at the ring was treating us great and it made our environment. We felt like home, even that we are here in Russia."
On the rivals:
"We have a long issue with Norway and we just starting the rivalry with Russia now. I think that Russia and Canada are going to have a lot of very good games against each other and I am really looking forward to playing with them. I think it`s gonna be a lot of fun. I really like the Russian players off the ice. They work hard, they are in shape, they are fit, which is good for a sport."
On the Paralympic Games:
"Yeah, I plan to be on here. You know, we were already qualified for the tournament, because we won last year and I am really excited to get here. I don’t know which team we will bring, we have a lot of very good players in Canada, but we are excited!"
Billy Bridges, forward (CAN), best player of the game:
On the game:
"I think we played well. You know it's six or seven month since we are together as a group and we have some new guys on the ice. We had a good start and a good finish and I think that is some of the most important things in the game."
On his "Best Player of the game" status:
"Ha-ha. I do not know about the best player of the game. But I've done a lot of work in the off-season to get ready for the Paralympics. This will be my fourth Paralympic games. And you know I've something improved and so been working pretty hard. It's great playing with this team, because every player can be the player of the game, any game."
On the venue:
"It's so amazing playing in this Arena. This is where Olympics and Paralympics are going to be. And it's already set up like it’s going to be. There is ice and the benches and the media room. Everything just phenomenal! I love the opportunity to be here, especially in this warm weather, you know. It is really hot out, but it is perfectly nice and cool on the ice. The ice is great. We were a little bit worried about it, but they’ve done an incredible job."
Keith Blase – IPC official chairman of the tournament:
"Well, this is obviously a very important event for our sport and I think also for a Paralympic movement. We strived to get more recognition for disabled sports and athletes so anytime we can host a major event like this – it’s very important for us. It’s a particularly important and lead up to Sochi 2014 and Paralympic Winter Games. And I think it’s also very important for the Russian program. They worked very, very hard in a short period of time to develop their sledge-hockey program and they have done an excellent job. They’ve become very, very competitive in a short period of time. And I think will definitely fight for the medal in March at the Paralympics. I know they hope it’s a gold medal, but the important thing is, that the Russian people should be proud of everything they have done to develop Paralympic sport, create beautiful venues for the world and athletes from all around the world and it will be very successful."
On August 28, in the second round of the group stage, the Canadian team will cross sticks with the Norwegian hockey players (15:00), and the hosts of the tournament will face the Czech team (18:30).
Anyone wishing to attend the decisive matches of the tournament (29, 31 August and 1 September) may do so with a nominal ticket and proof of identity. After purchasing an e-ticket online at: www.parter.ru, fill out the form and send it to the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on how to obtain tickets, please call the Contact Center: +7 495 2580000, +7 495 9333200
More information available on www.ipc-icesledgehockey.org
Notes to the Editor
The Shayba Arena is made to look like a snowdrift. It would be impossible to imagine a game of ice hockey without a "shayba" or puck. The name precisely portrays the purpose of the venue. In addition, for Russians, the cry "Shaybu!" is a universal and recognizable way of supporting hockey teams at various tournaments. Therefore, this name highlights the character of the "Russian" Winter Games.
The height of the Shayba Arena is 22.8 m, its capacity is 7,000 spectators. The venue will host Olympic ice hockey competitions and Paralympic ice sledge hockey competitions.
During the pouring of the first cubic meter of concrete, the construction workers laid a symbolic hockey puck at the foundation of the arena.
The first international Test Events were the IIHF Ice Hockey World U18 Championship – which took place at the venue in April 2013.