Para-hockey, or sledge hockey, is hockey played by athletes with one or more motor disabilities. Many of these para-athletes have a lower body amputation. One common thread unites all players: the love of hockey and perseverance. Let’s learn more about this sport!

What is sledge hockey?

Sledge hockey is played on an adapted sled with two buttock-high skates or pelvic skates for beginners. Players use two short hockey sticks to move and steer the sled. They also use them to pass, maneuver with the puck and shoot on goal. In order to do all of this with the sticks, one end has a curved paddle, like a traditional hockey stick. The other end has spikes to anchor the stick in the ice to move forward. Since the sled is elevated, there is enough room for the puck to go under the sled. 

What is the difference between hockey and para-hockey?

The protective equipment is the same for both sports. Para-hockey is played according to the same rules as hockey, with one difference: it is forbidden to enter the side of an opponent’s sled with the nose of our sled (therefore, at 90 degrees). Each team is allowed 6 players and a goalie on the ice. There are three 15-minute periods.

How was sledge hockey born?

Sledge hockey is the brainchild of three wheelchair athletes. In fact, three Swedes laid the foundation for the sport on a frozen lake in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, in 1961. Para-hockey later became part of the Paralympic program in 1994 at the Lillehammer Paralympic Games. It was a demonstration sport at the time. The discipline was made official four years later at the Paralympic Games.

Female para-athletes at the paralympic games

Female athletes were admitted for the first time to the Vancouver Paralympic Games in 2010. However, until now, only one woman has participated as a para-athlete in the Games. Lena Schröder played for the Norwegian team in 2018. 

The female discipline is not yet present at the Games. Since 2010, it is however considered mixed. Perhaps we will have the chance to see another woman participate in the person of Raphaëlle Tousignant?

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The first woman in a national team

Brit Mjaasund Öjen was the first woman to play in a national Para-hockey team at the Paralympics. She achieved this feat with the Norwegian team, the same team as Schröder, but 24 years earlier. As the sport was only in demonstration at that time, she isn’t included in the official statistics.

Dreaming of playing hockey

Hockey, our Canadian national sport, is a part of so many people’s lives. Young and old people admire the professional players of the NHL. And let’s not forget the girls who are starting to find their feet with the slow but sure emergence of women’s hockey. To see para-athletes like Raphaëlle Tousignant now achieve their dream of playing their favorite sport is inspiring. 

I’m already looking forward to watching the next Paralympic Games, how about you?

In the meantime, be sure to check out our other articles. chroniques.