Henrik Bach Nielsen, President of the Danish Ice Hockey Association, and Horst Lichtner, IIHF General Secretary, at the press conference. Photo: Martin Merk
First-time host looking forward to 2018
The next IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will be held in Denmark for the first time. Today, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark was introduced as the patron.
The capital of Copenhagen as well as Herning, one of the hockey cities of the country settled between Germany and Sweden, will host the 64 games of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
“It’s a great honour for Danish ice hockey that Crown Prince Frederik has committed to being the patron for the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. We are proud to have the attention and support of the Danish Royal Family for a sporting event the size of which the World Championship will be,” said Henrik Bach Nielsen, the President of the Danish Ice Hockey Association, who handed the Crown Prince a jersey of the Danish national team with the number 18 on Sunday after the press conference held during the 2017 Worlds in Cologne.
“Crown Prince Frederik is renowned for his passion for sports, including ice hockey. On multiple occasions we have had the pleasure of his presence at the World Championship and international games. We are looking forward immensely to May next year, and we are already in full swing with our extensive preparations for the tournament.”
With its size, the numbers of spectators, TV audience and media representatives, the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will the biggest sporting event ever held in the Scandinavian country of 5.7 million people.
“Denmark is really proud and very content to host the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. It’s going to be the biggest sporting event that has even been hosted in Denmark to date,” Crown Prince Frederik told IIHF.com.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark handed the prizes of the best player of the game for each team, an exclusive Tissot watch, to Nikolaj Ehlers (Denmark) and William Nylander (Sweden). Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
“I personally enjoy ice hockey a lot. I watch it mainly through the media, but I’ve seen dozens of matches live including at the Olympic Games. There’s an atmosphere that is extremely loud and like a party. It’s not like a football match. People are scattered all over the arena no matter which country they are from. That makes it special,” Crown Prince Frederik added.
He also knows the sport from another perspective having once played the game with friends. “It was some years ago. It was pretty good. I appreciate the sport. It’s a very tough and physical sport. You have to be individually very strong, but you also have to think as a team. What you witness is very exciting and impressive,” he said.
Denmark has 4,716 registered players who use 27 ice rinks across the country. The national team has played at the top-level World Championship ever since gaining promotion for the 2003 edition and has in recent years started to produce a growing number of NHL players such as Frederik Andersen, Nikolaj Ehlers, Frans Nielsen, and Lars Eller.
Currently 13th in the IIHF World Ranking, Denmark is the highest-ranked country that has never hosted the IIHF’s flagship event. But that’s going to change next year.
“Copenhagen and Herning will be great host cities. We always want to create a special experience for our fans and we’re looking forward to 2018,” said IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner. “It will be a new experience for hockey fans. Denmark is organizing this for the first time, and Danish ice hockey has developed a lot. We hope it will promote the sport in Denmark even more. It’s important for us to help our countries to develop our sport.”
Having recently visited the venues, Lichtner is certain that fans from Denmark and abroad will enjoy the first Worlds on Danish soil: “I’ve seen very impressive arenas. The arena in Copenhagen is brand-new, probably one of the most beautiful arenas I’ve seen so far. The arena in Herning is also a big and new arena.”
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark with 1.9 million inhabitants and 3.8 million in the Danish-Swedish Oresund region, will be the main venue with the hockey town of Herning, a city of 86,000, as second venue.
The 12,500-seat Royal Arena in Copenhagen opened earlier this year with sold-out concerts of the legendary band Metallica.
The arena is a 10-minute journey by metro from the city centre, and the venue’s train station allows direct connections to the airport and to Sweden. There’s also a motorway exit close to the arena and a fan zone is planned in the vicinity.
Herning is a three-hour journey from Copenhagen by car or train, or a 45-minute drive from the nearby Billund Airport.
The Jyske Bank Boxen that opened in Herning in October 2010 is a multi-functional arena for 11,000 spectators, including an event area with a football stadium and exhibition halls nearby that can be used for additional functions such as a fan zone and media centre. A railway station, bus stops, and highway exit are nearby.
The arena has hosted international handball and volleyball events, as well as concerts with stars like the late Prince, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. The KVIK Hockey Arena of the local club team Herning Blue Fox is five kilometres away and will be used as practice facility.
Bach Nielsen, who is also a member of the IIHF Council, is looking forward to the event.
“It’s a big thing to bring the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to Copenhagen and Herning. We are honoured and proud of this,” Bach Nielsen said in his speech to the media.
“Special thanks to all the volunteers. Without them there would be no World Championship in Denmark. We need approximately 1,000 volunteers and many have already signed up. Big thanks to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark for being the patron of this World Championship. We are honoured that he took his time to do this and will help us fulfilling our ambitions to make it a big event. Our ambition is to sell over 300,000 tickets.”
The organizers plan to have the Danish national team play the preliminary round in Herning and wish to have Sweden play the group in Copenhagen. From the Orestad station next to the Royal Arena it is just a 26-minute train ride to Malmo, the third-largest city in Sweden.
Denmark as the host nation is already qualified and will be joined by 13 other teams that currently play at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Cologne and Paris according to the final ranking. The two promoted teams, Austria and Korea, which qualified for the first time, will complete the field of 16 participating nations. The groups will be announced following the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship while the game schedule will be developed in the following months.
Check out the official website 2018.iihfworlds.com, which is available in English and Danish, for more information about the event, to order ticket packages that are already available, to read more about becoming a volunteer and subscribe to the newsletter.