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This snippet is a little inaccurate- there is not yet any official word that Korea will automatically qualify (though I'd assume they'll be there in some capacity even if the IIHF changes the match format), and Korea is not ranked 22nd in the world (though they can be placed no lower than 22nd in next year's World Hockey Championships)- but I still found it interesting that Korea will be investing in their hockey program, a sport in which they have no hope of contending for a medal. Good for them, this marks a departure from their pattern of traditionally supporting only those sports they have a shot at excelling in. I'm happy to see some Korean prospects gaining some experience in Finland 5 years before the Games.

"With Korea hosting the Winter Olympics in 2018 in Pyeongchang, Korea will automatically gain a berth for their ice hockey team. Currently ranked 22nd in the World, Korea would have had a tough time qualifying so they're trying to do their part to catch up

10-players from Korea's top professional team, the Anyang Halla are heading to Finland to participate in a training camp and league play there. With the Pyeongchang olympics less than 6-years away, Korea is investing in their hockey program by getting their top prospects some international experience. Finland is considered one of the World's top teams. The 10-Halla players will join the Finnish 2nd division league next season."

Not only Korea but all are trying to be better than past .

Some tiomes they are contrating on the sides in which they are weak .

And I think you are just saying something about those facts .

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Korea is also investing an other Asian nations (like Mongolia) so they get a chance to use the facilities.

Good to see Korea developing its hockey team. How about the women's team?

Brazil is also developing in winter sports, like Curling We will get there!!!

Korea no longer a pushover

NIKKO – Before the start of the Olympic Pre-Qualification tournament Group J in Nikko, Japan, there was a sense that it would be a two-horse race between host Japan and Great Britain.

After all, these two teams compete in the Division IA level, Romania is one division lower, and the upstart Korean team only just won promotion and wouldn’t be a challenge. Or would they?

As Great Britain found out in the first game, they were. Korea came back to upset the Brits in a shootout, then nearly did the same to Japan a day later.

By comparison to the top-ranked nations, Korea doesn’t have a strong ice hockey team, something Korea Olympic Committee (KOC) President Park Yong-sung admitted back in March 2012 when discussing the preparations for Korea’s own Olympics, being held in PyeongChang in 2018.

But he has to be pleased with the efforts made in a short span of time. Only a month later Korea defeated Poland on the opponent’s ice in Krynica in the final game of the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B, coming back from two goals down to win 3-2 and earn promotion to Division IA, one level below the top.

With that victory, Korea also moved up three spots in the IIHF World Ranking. This is a very positive first step for the men’s team, since moving up the rankings is the only way they will be able to qualify for the 2018 Olympics. But in order to make it to the Olympic tournaments, the men’s team currently ranked 28th and the women’s team currently ranked 26th still have to improve their positions significantly.

A tall order, but not impossible. And with the strides the Korean program has made in both the men’s and women’s ice hockey, there is a push by the Olympic committees and the government to make the teams into contenders in time for the show in PyeonChang.

For the advancement of the sport, the organizing committee has committed to building two rinks, at Gangneung Sports Complex and Yongdong College. The government has put aside funding for the programs, and the Korean Ice Hockey Association couldn’t be happier.

...

Full article:

http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/news/news-singleview/recap/7314.html?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=187&cHash=64c5f19165

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Damn that was close. If only Britain had beaten Japan in overtime rather than in regulation time, it would've been Korea facing Germany or other middle powers in February. Still, a good result for Korea to beat Britain and take Japan to overtime. And the 4 Korean players playing in Finland right now also played a crucial part in these past 3 games.

The next step is to avoid relegation from the Div 1A in 2013, and set up a Korean team in the Finnish Mestis League for 2013-2014. If this happens, I could see Korea competing with the likes of Austria, Slovenia or Italy in 5 years.

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Damn that was close. If only Britain had beaten Japan in overtime rather than in regulation time, it would've been Korea facing Germany or other middle powers in February. Still, a good result for Korea to beat Britain and take Japan to overtime. And the 4 Korean players playing in Finland right now also played a crucial part in these past 3 games.

The next step is to avoid relegation from the Div 1A in 2013, and set up a Korean team in the Finnish Mestis League for 2013-2014. If this happens, I could see Korea competing with the likes of Austria, Slovenia or Italy in 5 years.

Exactly! Hopefully IIHF sees the improvement theyhave made and give them a spot in 2018.

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Damn, I thought the Korean women were a lock for the WC. Oh well, onto 2018 for the curlers.

They still might be. They have to hope for other teams below them not to do as well. Also if they don't make top 7 or 8 (depending on Russia) they will have one last chance at a last chance qualifying tournament.

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Well, I wouldn't count on any kind of spike in the number of Koreans taking up hockey. Hockey is so specialized in comparison to the more basic and universal skating, skiing and snowboarding that the only way to get a respectable national team for 2018 is by developing the already-competent players with potential and sending them to play in Europe, rather than having the luxury to select from a large pool of players.

And after 2018, no one expects Korea to keep up their hockey pace. Frankly, Korea is punching above their weight right now by just keeping up with Britain and Japan. Their Div 1A status right now is already impressive, and Korea will peak during 2017-2018 only to drop again after. There's no other way, not with countries like Latvia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine having a KHL team, with Italy to get one next year. Then there are teams like Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Poland who have the benefit of playing in Europe with better competition.

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What a year it's been for Korean winter sports! First Yuna Kim came back from a 1.5 year absence to take gold in the ladies world figure skating championships, setting herself as a contender for gold in Sochi next year, and maybe more importantly, giving South Korea 3 ladies' spots in Sochi. Next, the Korean women's curling team qualified for Sochi next year, the first time a Korean team will be competing at the Olympics in curling.

And just now, in what I believe has been the greatest story in Korean winter sports this year, the Korean men's hockey team defeated Britain 4-1 to stay in the Division 1A for next year's world championships in hockey. They will be ranked #21 in this year's tournament, having finished 5th in Division 1A. This is their highest yearly tournament ranking ever, and for the first time in history, clearly showed they can compete in the division just below the top division. A recap of their games and how they stacked up to their opponents:

Korea (ranked 28th) vs. Italy (ranked 16th) - Italy beat Korea 4-0, and outshot them 38-18. The game was never in doubt for Italy, but Korea managed to keep the opponents' goalscoring to a minimum, something they have not always been able to do in the past.

Korea (28) v. Hungary (19) - Korea defeated Hungary 5-4 in overtime, despite being down 4-1 after 2 periods. Hungary outshot Korea 29-27. Korea had never beat Hungary before in 10 different attempts, and this may be Korea's greatest victory in hockey history.

Korea (28) v. Japan (22) - Japan defeated Korean 6-5, despite Korea outshooting Japan 45-24. Had Korea started the younger Sung-Je Park as their starting goalie instead of Hyun-Seung Eum, Korea may have been able to win a game they had dominated. Although Japan has traditionally had a stronger hockey team than Korea, and Japan continues to beat Korea in important games, Korea has shown they are at Japan's level.

Korea (28) v. Kazakhstan (17) - Kazakhstan beat Korea 4-2, and outshot Korea 44-25. Kazakhstan is a team that competes with the best in the world, and can hold their own against powerhouses like the US, Russia, Finland and Slovakia. For Korea to show that they can keep the scoreline respectable against Kazakhstan was a huge achievement for them.

Korea (28) v. Great Britain (21) - Going into the last game, the winner of this game would remain in Division 1A, while the loser would be relegated to Division 1B (which currently includes respectable teams like Ukraine, Poland and the Netherlands). Korea defeated Britain 4-1, despite Britain outshooting Korea 31-26. Although Korea had defeated Britain earlier in November during the Olympic pre-qualification, Britain had traditionally beaten Korea in games played together, so this game marked a watershed in Korean hockey in that they no longer had to look up to British hockey.

When the 2014 Olympics are done and the new rankings come out, Korea will be ranked around 23. This is a more appropriate ranking than their current ranking of 28, and a much greater improvement than their ranking of 31 in July 2011, when Pyeongchang won the right to host. Korean hockey has made commitments to improve over the next 5 years leading to Pyeongchang, and this year's tournament shows they'll be ready to compete.

As of now, Korea has shown they belong in their current division and deserve this year's rank of 21. Given their performances against the countries ranked 16-22 in the world, I believe Korea can manage to keep the scoreline respectable (within 10 goals) against countries ranked 11-18. This includes teams like Latvia, Denmark, France, Belarus, Austria and Slovenia. Over the next few years, Korea may even be able to close a similar gap with countries like Norway, Germany and Switzerland (ranked 8-10 in the world). Given where Korean hockey was even 10 (or even 5) years ago, that's all the IIHF can ask for.

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http://www.sbnation.com/2013/8/23/4650836/iihf-survey-2013-hockey-growth

Korea saw a 28% growth in registered hockey players, now up to 2106 players. 1800 are under the age of 20. That means just 300 are over 20. The current national men's and women's teams are probably mostly composed of players over 20. So by 2018, some of those under-20 players will be in the Olympics. More importantly, the national team will have a bigger pool to choose from.

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South Korea is on track to send about 60 athletes to Sochi, the most ever. Hockey and Nordic combined are the only sports not represented.

That's great news. But where are the extra athletes coming from? Using the 46 athletes in 2010 as a base, I count 5 more curlers and 1 more figure skater. That's 52...

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Mogul skier Choi aims for country's first medal on snow

http://m.koreatimes.co.kr/phone/news/view.jsp?req_newsidx=150333

When Choi Jae-woo began skiing at the age of 4 with his father, a sports fanatic, it was clear he had a knack for the sport, and by the age of 15 he had become the youngest to represent Korea in mogul skiing.

At 6, he began mogul skiing and as an elementary school student, he was already executing back flips and 360-degree spins.

Choi, standing 176 centimeters tall, has a physique fit for the discipline, which requires athletes to carry out a series of aerial stunts. Mogul skiing is a type of freestyle skiing. Athletes perform tricks, jumps and aggressive turns on a steep mogul slope while remaining in the fall line.

Aware of this, he flew to Canada in 2008, where he trained to refine his basics and soon after won a local junior competition, after which Canadian officials sniffed around him to convince him to become naturalized.

In 2012, he returned to Korea after hearing that mogul ski coach Toby Dawson would be taking the helm of the Korean national team. Under Dawson’s guidance, Choi flourished. He snagged the bronze at the 2012 FIS (International Ski Federation) Junior World Ski Championships in Italy and won the Australian Continental Cup later that year. He placed fifth in the World Ski Championships in Norway in June 2013, after which he was voted rookie of the year.

The Sochi Winter Games will be Choi’s first Olympic appearance. His goal is to bring home a medal.

“I am hoping to become the first (Korean) medalist in the event,” Choi told The Korea Times. Korea has yet to win a medal on snow at the Olympics. “I’ve won medals at different competitions, but I wasn’t excited about them because my ultimate goal is to top the podium at the Olympics.”

At the FIS World Cup at Val St. Come, Canada, Choi finished 27th and 41st in consecutive events _ unsatisfying results, he says. But again, he stressed that he’s not too upset about those results because to him, the Olympics is what matters. He is determined to learn from his experience at the World Cup and apply those lessons on the Olympic stage.

Choi said the focus of the event will be whether he and compatriot Seo Jung-hwa will make it into the final tournament. Unlike the Vancouver Games in 2010, six finalists will make it through the preliminary rounds and those six will vie for the gold. Competitors will perform three times a day, which will require stamina and concentration.

“If I make it into the final tournament, I think I’ll be able to compete lightheartedly,” he said. “Right now, I’m training as I always have been. I’m a little tired, but the coach reminds me constantly that slowing down would render me unfit for the Olympics.”

Choi’s training includes working with male gymnast Yang Hak-sun, an Olympic gold medalist in vault, who executes the three-revolution 1080 turns, like Choi does. Yang advised him on how to maximize height and accuracy while performing aerial movements.

With exactly two weeks until the commencement of the Sochi Games, Choi says not much has changed as of yet. “I think it’ll start sinking in when I unpack in Sochi,” he said. “I’m nervous and excited. I can’t wait to get there.”

Choi, only 20 years old, says while his goal at the Sochi Olympics is to win any medal, his hopes for the 2018 PyeongChang Games is to win the gold. For now, he hopes the Korean public shows interest in the less-popular sports, as well as those in which Korean athletes are heavily favored to win.

“I will do my best in Sochi. I hope Korean citizens will continue rooting for me while I’m there,” he said.

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2 Canadians, Michael Swift and Brian Young, received their Korean citizenship and can now play for the Korean hockey team. They join Brock Radunske, who got citizenship last year and was the first athlete without Korean heritage to represent Korea in any sport. I was ok with 1, but I'm less enthusiastic about 3 imports. Korea is already doing a good job sending its players to Finland, just let the rest take its course.

If the IIHF would just give Korea automatic qualification like all the other previous hosts, maybe there would be less of an incentive to naturalize the 3 players.

http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/news/news-singleview/recap/8405.html?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=187&cHash=205e009abc

The Ministry of Justice in Korea approved the two Canadians' Korean citizenship on 21st January and after reviewing their eligibility status in accordance with the requirements stated in the IIHF Status & Bylaws, the players have become eligible to represent Korea in IIHF championships and Olympic ice hockey tournaments.

Thus, Swift and Young will be eligible to represent their new country in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A right in front of 3,400 fans on home ice in Goyang City next April.

Young, 186 cm and 86 kg, is a passionate and determined player. He played 17 games for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL. His experience in the NHL, defensive skills and a strong slap shot will be a huge advantage for Korea not only in equal strength but also during power-play situations.

The 27-year-old defenceman moved to Korea in 2010 and is in his fourth season with High1 Chuncheon of the Asia League. Initially Young failed to obtain Korean citizenship last year but he had strong will to become a Korean and he tried once again this year. He now has seven goals and 13 assist in 27 games in the Asia League.

Meanwhile, Swift is one of the best forwards in the Asia League. His speed while carrying the puck as well as shooting accuracy belies his 175 cm height. The 26-year-old joined High1 Chuncheon in 2011 and scored most goals, most assist and most points in the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 seasons. He created an incredible record with 39 goals and 58 assists in 40 games in 2012/2013 and is leading the scoring race with 31 goals and 22 assists in 28 games in the current season.

The two players were granted citizenship according to new naturalization rules for outstanding athletes by the Republic of Korea.

Brock Radunske, 30, received the Korean passport in March 2013. He participated in the 2013 IIHF World Championship Division I Group A in April in Budapest, Hungary, and had three goals and two assists in five games en route to keeping Korea in the group. Radunske became the first athlete without Korean heritage to represent the country in any sport.

Now that another two Canada-born Koreans join their national team, Korea can set the goal even higher. Young and Swift already joined the Korean national team as special guests in two exhibition games against Kazakhstan in November 2013 in Goyang City, the host of the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A.

Korea, 25th in the current IIHF World Ranking, will participate in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in April in Goyang City alongside Austria (15), Slovenia (17), Hungary (19), Ukraine (20) and Japan (21).

The top-two teams of the tournament will be promoted to the Top Division of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic.

The Koreans now aims to improve on their fifth-placed placing in last year's championship in Hungary with the addition of the new players. Radunske, Swift and Young are also expected to help their new team turn Korea's 2018 Olympic dream into reality.

Edited by Gangwon
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