Sledge Hockey is one cool sport! My trip to the 2010 Paralympics was my first exposure to the game of Sledge Hockey. Of course, like Team Canada games in this hockey mad nation – all team Canada Sledge Hockey games were sold out in advance of the Paralympic opening ceremonies. I was however able to walk up and still get tickets in the nearly sold out UBC Thunderbird Arena for the game that decided 5th and 6th place between the Czech Republic and Korea.
The interesting thing about the game is the sleds are balanced on a single skate. Considering that each player has a different disability (missing part or all of one or both legs for instance) you realize that each sled has to be fitted and balanced differently for each player. What works for one player might not work for another….and it’s a delicate balancing act to optimum mobility.
Sledge Hockey is game that obviously take a amazing amount of upper body strength as not only are the players shooting the puck one handed (a short stick is held in each hand) they also have to propel themselves up and down the ice by using the sticks like you would a ski pole. The endurance these players have is impressive. Add to this the fact that the game I watched went into OT you really have to admire these athletes.
Once again, as entertaining as the game itself was, the fact that the players were so appreciative of the support they received from the fans is what will always stick in my mind. The more I watched the Paralympics, the more impressed I got. Hopefully one day the Olympic and Paralympic games will be combined and these athletes will get the full recognition they deserve!