On Team Grey Selina Aho and Julina Gianola were a defence pair during the 2018 IIHF Women’s High-Performance Camp. They also have in common that both were born into hockey families. Continuing the tradition was just a natural step for them.
When 16-year-old Julina Gianola grew up in Davos, her father Marc Gianola was the captain of HC Davos, a team he won four championships with. He played as a defenceman too and had national team games in the ‘90s. He continued to work for the club off the ice, became the President of the Spengler Cup organizing committee and most recently the CEO of HC Davos. So following him on the ice seemed just natural for his kids, whether they’re boys or girls. After playing with the U15 boys in Davos, she also had her first games in the Swiss Women’s Hockey League A and already played her first U18 Women’s World Championship at 15 last winter.
Selina Aho is the younger sister of Swedish national team and New York Islanders defenceman Sebastian Aho. All five siblings – three boys and two girls – started to play hockey at a young age. It didn’t seem a difficult choice for 17-year-old Selina Aho either when she was a little girl. Her father came from Finland to Sweden and played hockey as well. She has several hockey-playing cousins in Finland. Selina Aho already moved from the boys to women’s hockey a few years ago and since last season in the top league SDHL for HV71 Jonkoping after quitting her hometown team Bjorkloven from Umea. Last winter she also played her first U18 Women’s World Championship, just one year after her elder sister Selma, her teammate at HV71, has done so.
IIHF.com had a quick chat with them during the 2018 IIHF Women’s High-Performance Camp. When and why did you start to play hockey?
Aho: I started playing hockey when I was five. I did it because I had older siblings playing and my dad was playing when he was younger and he was a coach. It was kind of natural for me to start playing. From 10 to 15 he was also my coach.
Gianola: I also started because my brothers played and I was fed up just watching them so I thought I will play too. My father played too. It was in the family. I started first when I was six, then stopped for a while and then continued. How did you realize that you’re from a hockey family, that your father was a player.
Aho: When I got a little bit older we had interviews like that in the family so I realized it’s something special. We are five kids and all play. It was kind of special for others I guess.
Gianola: I didn’t realize it for a while, it was just normal. My colleagues knew that my father played as a pro but it was just normal. What do you love most about hockey?
Aho: I love that when you play hockey on a team you always have people you trust. You play with your teammates. When you’re in an individual sport you’re all on your own and in hockey you have so many people you can trust. It helps when you play.
Gianola: For me it’s the same. And I really like that it’s a very fast sport. You travel far with hockey and hockey people are cool. Most of your junior career you played with boys. Was it easy, or complicated at times?
Aho: I think it was really good to play with boys because it’s a faster game with the boys. When you stop playing with them and go to senior women’s hockey you’re prepared for the big game.
Gianola: It was good for me too. Although sometimes it’s difficult, you always compare yourself with the boys and they’re often stronger and faster so sometimes it can give you a bad feeling but in general it’s cool with them. You’re from a family that has a name in hockey with a brother and father respectively who played for the national team. Are you ready, so to say, to follow them in international hockey?
Aho: I want to play as much for the national team as I can. That’s the highest goal. I will try. The Olympics and Worlds are my big goal.
Gianola: For me the biggest goal is to reach the Olympics. I want to play hockey as much as possible on the national team and in general. What do you do away from the hockey rink?
Aho: At the moment it’s just school and hockey. There’s not much free time beside. If I have time I like to relax and be home and be with friends who don’t play hockey.
Gianola: Or do something with the family like enjoy the mountains. You’re here for the first time. How do you like it and what did you learn?
Aho: I like it, it’s fun, you meet people from different cultures and countries. You need to practise your English and you learn new stuff from the coaches. Everyone has something special they can teach you. There’s something new all the time.
Gianola: We learn a lot in general. They really go into detail how you should do certain things. We can bring back home a lot. It’s also cool to be together with others. In the beginning I had a lot of respect from that. This is the last story from our 2018 IIHF Women’s High-Performance Camp coverage. Click here for photos, stories and video from the camp.