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Holy crap, congrats Jim Paek! Korean Ice Hockey team to play at 2018 Winter Olympics

While I was headed down to the rink this morning, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff reports that there's great news for Jim Paek and the Korean Ice Hockey team:

From IIHF.com's Adam Steiss:

The Korean men’s and women’s national teams will be competing on home ice at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeonChang, following a decision by the IIHF Congress to grant the country automatic entry into the ice hockey events.

“After careful deliberation and discussions with the IOC and the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA), we have decided to grant an automatic qualification to the men’s and women’s national teams for PyeongChang 2018,” said IIHF President René Fasel.

The decision came following meetings held during the 2014 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress, where the KIHA presented a comprehensive four-year plan to intensify the development of the men’s and women’s teams. The plan has the backing of the IOC, the Korean government, and national sponsors, who together with the KIHA have pledged to invest over $20 million U.S. into the national team program in the leadup to the Games.

In addition to the financial investment, the KIHA plans to organize annual exchange programs for their players with the world’s top hockey leagues and organizations. A major effort will be also made towards increasing the number of domestic and international games for the national team.

“Korean hockey has been working for a long time for this opportunity, and to have this presented to us today is overwhelming,” said Korean men’s national team head coach Jim Paek. “I don’t want to make any promises but as long as we focus on the process every day to get better I think we’ll be very competitive and hopefully we’ll represent the country well.”

On the women’s side, a slew of overseas training camps for the team are in the works, along with a National Team Development Program and a planned expansion of the domestic women’s league. 

“The IIHF is confident that, given the sizeable investment into the men’s and women’s programs, along with the changes in the KIHA’s structure and operations, Korea should have a chance to show the world it is capable of competing at the highest level of international hockey,” said Fasel.

“This is a winning situation for Korean hockey,” said Paek. “I believe that when you have success people will gather to that and gain interest in the game, and to be a part of these Olympics is a big motivation for us.”

Now that they have a ticket to PyeongChang, the real work begins for Paek and the rest of the Korean national team. When asked about the next step, the former NHLer had one word:

“Prepare,” said Paek. “We’re behind the eight ball in a sense, because to build a national world competition team takes time and we only have a short period of time, so we need a strategy and a plan to maximize our potential.”

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games take place from 9-25 February 2018. The playing format is still to be confirmed, but Korea will be the last seeded team.

In other Congress news, IIHF Sport Director Dave Fitzpatrick confirmed that the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games (12-16 February, 2016) will feature both a men’s and women’s ice hockey tournament and a men’s and women’s skills challenge competition.

Both the Skills Challenge and the tournaments will be contested in an Under-16 age category. The Skills Challenge is open to all IIHF Member National Associations. A National Skills Challenge Program will be operated between 1 October 2014 and 7 May 2015 for the nations that wish to send athletes to the Skills Challenge. Each nation’s top skills challenge athletes will then compete in a Final Skills Challenge Qualification event to be operated by the IIHF in July 2015 to decide the final 16 male and 16 female participants that will be qualified and seeded by the end of July 2015.

Norway’s men’s and women’s team will be automatically qualified for both hockey tournaments. The rest of teams will be selected from a combined men’s and women’s Under-18 ranking from the 2014 and 2015 IIHF Championship Program. A total of 10 national teams from 9 nations will contend in a single round robin preliminary round of 10 games, followed by two semi-final and two medal games.

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Comments

SYF's avatar

Can’t be anymore happy for Jim and South Korea.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 09/19/14 at 05:00 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.