Ice hockey was once an all but unknown sport to many PRD residents. But times have changed. Guangdong now has its own provincial women’s ice hockey team and it’s striking out to gain recognition on the national stage.
According to Guangzhou Daily, the team was formed by Guangdong Winter Sports Association to represent Guangdong province in the 2018 Chinese Ice Hockey Championship, May 7-12 in Beijing. The championship is organized by the Chinese Ice Hockey Association (CIHA), the governing body of ice hockey in China. Twenty-eight teams from 12 provinces and cities will compete this year, the most since CIHA’s founding in 1981.
Most members on the Guangdong team were originally trained in roller-skating before transitioning to ice hockey. Many competed in the 13th National Games of China last year in Tianjin. It's an exciting milestone for the development of winter sports in the PRD, as this is the first time Guangdong has participated as a provincial team in the national championship.
The rise of ice hockey in China has underlined the surging popularity of winter sports as a whole, driven by the country’s commitment to involve 300 million people in winter sports activities in the lead-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
International competition is also becoming a commonplace sight for hockey fans across China. After bringing two preseason matches between the Vancouver Canucks and LA Kings to Beijing and Shanghai last year, the National Hockey League (NHL) is returning to China this fall, with two preseason games scheduled between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames. The first game will take place in Shenzhen on September 15. The teams will then head north to Beijing on the 19th.
On March 26, Chinese women’s ice hockey team Shenzhen Kunlun Red Star won runner-up in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), the best performance by China in world’s top ice hockey leagues to date, according to China Daily.