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China takes opening victory in ice hockey world championship

A player of the Chinese team (C) acts in its opening match against Slovakia at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A, which started at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center in Longgang District yesterday. China claimed a 1-0 victory. Liu Xudong

Amidst enthusiastic applause and cheers from the audience, host China took a 1-0 victory over Slovakia in their opener at the 2023 IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A, which raised its curtain at Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center in Longgang District yesterday. Kong Minghui scored for China.

In the opening match of the tournament, Denmark smashed the Netherlands with a convincing 6-1 victory. In a following match, Austria beat Norway with a resounding 4-0 scoreline. 

Teams from six countries with a total of 350 players are competing in the single-round-robin tournament, playing a total of 15 matches for five days. The top two teams will battle to the top, while teams at the bottom will be relegated to Division I Group B.

Lilli Friis-Hansen, who scored Denmark’s first goal, expressed her excitement in an interview after the match. “It’s great to be able to score the opening goal and help the team from the start,” she said. “Our goal is to win the tournament and move up.” 

She anticipated to compete with the Chinese team. “I’m excited to meet them on the field.” 

Speaking of the sports arena, she said: “I’m super impressed with the venue. I’m super impressed with everything that’s been set up here for us. The facilities are great.” 

Shenzhen made history in Chinese sports as the first city in South China to host a top-level international ice hockey tournament. 

Luc Tardif, president of IIHF, told Shenzhen Daily that he was not surprised by Shenzhen being selected as the host city because it has built several ice rinks for various ice sports, including ice hockey and figure skating, following the success of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. “We wanted to support the Chinese federation’s development of ice hockey following Beijing’s success,” Tardif said. He also confirmed that IIHF had reached an agreement with Shenzhen to host the games for the next two years. 

The intense tournament attracted a large number of spectators, including Aleksei Povolotskii, a sports commentator who hailed all the way from Russia. Povolotskii was glad to watch the tournament with participating teams from Europe and China. “It is wonderful to see ice hockey expanding all over the world,” he said. “I will support the local Chinese team, because they are the host. I hope they get promoted to the top level.”

Deng Luhao, an ice hockey fan and a postgraduate student at Lomonosov Moscow State University, appreciated the strength displayed by the Danish team. 

“Observing an ice hockey competition of this level will increase public awareness and generate a growing interest among citizens. This, in turn, will foster a closer following of the sport and potentially inspire parents to encourage their children to participate in ice and snow sports,” Deng said.

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