International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel is keen to add 3×3 ice hockey to the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games programme, following a successful experimental competition at Lausanne 2020.
The 3×3 format appeared on a Winter Youth Games programme for the first time in Lausanne. Eight teams, each made up of a mix of players from different nations, competed in both the men’s and women’s events from January 10 to 15. Each team was allowed 11 players and two goalkeepers, with three outfield players plus a goalkeeper allowed on the ice at any time. Games were played in the end zone of a normal rink, with the smaller field-of-play making for dynamic, non-stop action.
Fasel said: “It’s the first time we did this kind of tournament, and it’s been a big surprise. I am a rather old guy and maybe quite conservative.
“But we would like to have 3×3 at Gangwon 2024 [Youth Olympic Games], and when I speak with my people in the federation, there are some that are very enthusiastic about having it at senior level. We should not be against an evolution of our sport, like basketball has done. It is a lot of fun.”
Competitors in the Lausanne 3×3 event were supportive of it stepping up to the Winter Olympics. Yam Yau, from Hong Kong, China, who won gold in the men’s event, said: “My dream is to play at the Winter Olympics in 3-on-3, so I really hope it continues to grow. It feels amazing to get Hong Kong’s first winter medals.” The Hong Kong players that took part in the winning teams were the first from the country to win medals at any Winter Games.
Takeshi Linzbicher, whose daughter Marja Linzbichler was a participant, said: “3-on-3 is a marvellous idea, so I’d like to congratulate the IOC and the hockey federation for coming together and inventing this sport.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for athletes that come from countries without a strong hockey tradition. I’m not sure you can do mixed NOC at the Olympic Games, because we are too used to one country against another. But 3-on-3 for events like these could work well.”