RIGA - The World Ice Hockey Championship for women was launched at the Olympic Center Ventspils March 14 – 20.
National teams from the Czech Republic, Norway, Kazahstan, France, North Korea and Latvia will participate in the championship, and several games have already taken place this week.
In the tournament's opening match, Norway and France skated to a 3:3 tie on March 14 in front of some 600 spectators.
The home team, unfortunately, came up short. In its first game of the year, Latvia lost to the Czech Republic, one of the strongest contenders in the championship and third place finisher last year, 1:4.
Laila Stolte scored the only goal.
The following evening Latvia's women fared better, skating to a 3:3 tie against Kazakhstan, which is favored to win the entire tournament.
Last year Kazakhstan, which features six players who play professional hockey in Canada, took second place in the championship, and on March 14 the team beat North Korea handily 4:1 in its opening match in this year's action.
Latvia's national women's team has been participating in the world championship for several years now, even though there is only one local women's ice hockey team to speak of: Laima.
Several Laima members play in other countries during the regular season, particularly in Sweden and Austria. But this was the first year when potential players from Latvian cities other than Riga were invited to training camp.
During the past few years Laima's team lineup hasn't changed.
The world championships are being held in Ventspils for the second year, only this time the winning team will be allowed to compete in the premier league, while the losing team will be demoted to the second league.