Verity Lewis (Bracknell) will represent Great Britain at the Winter Youth Olympics in Norway next year after coming through the IIHF qualifying section this week.

Verity progressed to the IIHF Global Skills Challenge by first leading the way in the Great Britain female section of the event by beating off the challenge of some 80 other participants invited to take part from England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland age dependant.

But male skater Lewis Houston (Solway) just missed out on a place in the Olympics in Lillehammer as he failed to qualify.
Participants took part in six disciplines over the last few days in Vierumaki; fastest lap, skating agility, pass accuracy, puck control, shooting accuracy and hardest shot.

Teenager Verity, from Bracknell, went into the final day sitting in 11th place with two skills remaining – fastest shot and passing accuracy.She had two attempts in the fastest shot, recording 78 and 77kph, but this was not enough to see her progress past the first round.

Her final skill of the competition was passing accuracy and Verity reached the quarter-finals. This gave her two points, giving her a total of six points throughout the week, and she qualified for the Olympics in 14th place.

IHUK general secretary, Andy French, said: “I am so proud of both these athletes and they certainly did GB proud over the last few days.

“It is brilliant that Verity has qualified for the prestigious Youth Olympics and next year will be so exciting for her. Lewis Houston was not so lucky and he came up against some outstanding opposition from around the world, but can hold his head high for getting this far.”

Paul Burton (Bracknell Queen Bees Head Coach England U16 Girls Coach) echoed Andy’s comments stating all at Bracknell where very proud of her and we will work hard with Verity to help prepare her for what lies ahead – I am sure that will start sooner rather than later when Verity travels back to Finland with the U16’s Girls in August to take part in number of challenge games against top Finnish and Swedish team.

Geoff Hemmerman (Women’s Chair EIHA) said

“This I a huge achievement for female ice hockey not only in England but for Great Britain this is the second consecutive Youth Olympics Great Britain have been represented so that’s incredible when you understand the quality of player the girls are up against but it is also a credit to Bracknell and the England Female programme as Verity is following in the footsteps of the previous competitor also from Bracknell and England Katherine Gale – Well done to all involved!”