The long wait will finally be over when the puck is thrown at Calgary’s Winsport Arena on Friday local time (8 p.m. CEST) for the first game of the 20th Women’s Ice Hockey World Championship. The opening match between the Czech Republic and Denmark is the first World Cup game since the final of the last World Cup in Espoo (Finland) 859 days ago. On April 14, 2019, Team USA defeated the Finns 2-1 after a shootout and won their fifth consecutive World Championship. For the first time since the first World Cup in 1990, players from Canada, the homeland of ice hockey, were not in the final.
Since then, the 2020 World Cup has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The last rejection made headlines. The evening before the flight to Halifax, the teams received a prohibition message from the government of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The World Ice Hockey Federation announced the move in late August and within Canada, following a storm of outrage from players on social and other media.
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By 10 August, all ten qualified teams had to arrive in dire conditions and with special permits from the Canadian government. A week before seven European teams boarded two charter flights from Helsinki and Munich to Calgary, they isolated themselves from the outside world in a training bubble, following the World Cup’s hygiene concept.
Arriving in Canada, the team followed a five-day personal quarantine at hotels. Always with regular PCR testing. Athletes also patiently endured these final trials. In the social network he documented how he transformed his hotel rooms into fitness centers and yoga studios. At least expressed his happiness at being able to open the windows. Some learned to juggle, others tried bigger puzzles.
The only Berliner in the German squad, Laura Kluge from Hohenschönhausen, briefly gained notoriety through concert snippets on guitar. More than 1500 PCR tests conducted so far have shown negative results. So there is likely to be an ice training session from Monday and a Test match on Wednesday. The German team met Denmark and won 4–3 after a penalty shoot-out. The dress rehearsal was a success.
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While the five teams from Group A (Olympic athletes from USA, Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland) automatically qualified for the quarter-finals due to their world rankings and playing the best starting position in the preliminary round, the German team with debut head coach Thomas Schadler are fighting for the remaining three places in the top eight round with the Czech Republic, Japan, Hungary and Denmark. There are no exile women this time.
“Our target is clearly the quarter-finals,” says 24-year-old Kluge, who had ice hockey training with IceBrain Juniors. “I believe Denmark and Hungary can definitely be defeated and everything is open with Japan and the Czech Republic.”
One thing is certain even before the last day of the World Cup on 31st August. The players have not only acquired new talent during the quarantine period, they also make sure to clear any future patience test without blinking an eye.
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