Latvia Forms Amputee Ice Hockey Team

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Latvia may soon have its own national standing amputee ice hockey team after a recent demonstration of the international team playing against Latvia's professional Zemgale team. The event was the first of its kind in Latvia and signals another step closer to having standing hockey reaching International Paralympic Committee (IPC) criteria for inclusion in the Paralympic Games.

Members of both ice hockey teams, supporters, and national and international hockey and Paralympic officials gather for a celebration photo after Latvia's November exhibition hockey game, sponsored in part by Ohio Willow Wood. Now, Latvian organizers will begin recruiting and assembling Latvia's own national standing ice hockey team.
Members of both ice hockey teams, supporters, and national and international hockey and Paralympic officials gather for a celebration photo after Latvia's November exhibition hockey game, sponsored in part by Ohio Willow Wood. Now, Latvian organizers will begin recruiting and assembling Latvia's own national standing ice hockey team.

The exhibition hockey game held November 13, 2004, at the Jelgavas Ledushalle arena, was organized by the International Standing Ice Hockey Federation (ISIHF). The demonstration served as the kickoff event for Latvian organizers to actively recruit amputee ice hockey players and organize its own national standing hockey team.

"We continue to be encouraged by the excitement and eagerness of amputee hockey players and hockey fans in general," said Mark Pitkin, PhD, president of the ISIHF. "We have been building on that encouragement by working with ice hockey and disabled sports organizers and holding demonstrations throughout Europe and in Asia. Our goal is to soon have enough national teams for the sport to meet the criteria established by the IPC for inclusion in the Winter Games."

The 11 amputee team members for the demonstration were from Russia (five players), Canada (one player), Finland (two players), and the Czech Republic (three players). The event was sponsored, in part, by Ohio Willow Wood, Mt. Sterling, Ohio, a long-time supporter and proponent of standing hockey. Both the Latvian Paralympic Committee and the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation sanctioned the demonstration.

The ISIHF will hold its Open European Cup Championship in May 2005 in Innsbruck, Austria, at the Innsbrucker Olympiahalle and anticipates having additional country demonstrations in 2005. The ISIHF conducted its first congress in April 2004 and elected its first set of officers. The push for international standing hockey teams started in 1999 by the International Institute for Prosthetic Rehabilitation of Landmine Survivors ( www.iprls.org), and has since grown to the formation of the ISIHF and six countries fielding teams: Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, and the US.

For more information on the ISIHF and standing hockey, contact Miroslav Kluc, ISIHF Secretary at kluc@cmail.cz