The Winter Youth Olympic Games were hosted for the first time ever in 2012 in Innsbruck and Seefeld, Austria followed by Lillehammer 2016 in Norway. At the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games ice hockey will be represented with two men’s and two women’s events. Male and female athletes born in 2004 and 2005 will be eligible to participate in the event that will be staged in Lausanne, Switzerland, 9-22 January 2022.
The 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games will consist of two phases. For ice hockey, the first phase will feature a new competition format, 3-on-3 cross-ice tournaments, while the second phase will have a more traditional, six-team tournament with five-on-five skaters in place. Both tournaments will feature male and female categories for players born 2004 and 2005.
The 3-on-3 tournament
The 3-on-3 tournament will be played cross-ice with two games running simultaneously, one in each end of the rink. The tournaments will consist of 8 teams per gender category. The teams will be mixed-NOC and therefore consist of players from numerous countries all over the world, mixed into teams of 11 skaters and two goaltenders. These teams play a round-robin tournament followed by semi-finals and medal games. The players will be selected through national skills challenge competitions and the goaltenders will be selected on a youth ranking which is also used for the allocation of team quote for the 6-team tournaments.
12 national teams go for gold
There will be six teams each in the men’s and women’s tournaments. The 6-team tournaments will consist of two groups of three. After the preliminary round, the top two teams of both groups will compete in semi-finals before the medal games. Switzerland qualifies automatically to both men’s and women’s tournaments and the remaining countries will be chosen based on the youth ranking.
The Youth Ranking will be based on the 2018 and 2019 IIHF Men’s U18 and Women’s U18 Ice Hockey World Championships. Countries will be rewarded points based on their final rankings in these four tournaments. The highest-ranked country may then choose whether they wish to participate in the 6-team tournament and, if yes, choose either the male or female tournament. The process will continue until all available 10 team spots are filled.
Skills Challenge as 3-on-3 qualification
National Skills Challenges shall be operated by the National Olympic Committees and the National Ice Hockey Associations. The Skills Challenge consists of just one test in which the athletes compete against time. The best player from each country will automatically qualify to the 3-on-3 tournament while the remaining quota will be filled based on a global ranking. All of the Skills Challenge events must be filmed for verification of results. More detailed information about the operation of the Skills Challenges will be provided directly to the countries willing to take part.
More information about the Qualification System can be found here.