USA aims to medal at Bandy World Championships
A pair of U.S. national teams that train in Minnesota are in Sweden this week for the 2023 Bandy World Championship.
State of play: The international tournament gives us all a chance to cheer for local athletes as they go for gold in a winter sport that boasts unique connections to our state.
- This year's competition marks the first time the U.S. men's and women's squads are vying for medals at the same time
Catch up quick: If you haven't heard of bandy, you're not alone. The fast-paced sport, which has been played in England since at least the 1800s, is often described as a cross between field hockey, ice hockey and soccer.
- The 11-member teams play on a rink the size of a soccer field. Sticks are shorter than the ones used in ice hockey, and goals are bigger. Instead of a puck, players use an orange ball.
Watch: The rules of bandy explained
Why it matters: Roseville is home to what's believed to be the only regulation-size outdoor bandy rink in the United States.
- That's why both U.S. national teams, which are largely made up of former hockey players, train here in the Twin Cities.
What they're saying: Neither the men’s nor the women’s U.S. national team has ever made the podium, but that’s something they're hoping to change this year.
- "We have been very close — [placing] fourth or fifth — but we have not yet medaled, and that is our goal," women’s fullback Briana Jentner Carlson told Axios.
The intrigue: Russia, usually a top contender, isn't sending teams this year because of the war in Ukraine. That could improve Team USA's chances of medaling in both divisions.
What we're watching: Local players and fans have also been involved in a multi-year effort to make bandy a Winter Olympic sport.
- Carlson said she's hopeful that Sweden winning its bid to host the 2030 games could tip the scales in their favor, since the country is home to a professional league and plenty of rinks.
What's next: The U.S. national men's team was scheduled to play its first match against Finland early Tuesday morning.
- The women's team plays its first games Wednesday.
The opening rounds for both divisions are round robin format. Championship games will be played over the weekend.
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