China Golden Dragons
Photographer: Martin Divíšek
A selection of Chinese ice hockey players have been sent to the Czech Republic in a bid to hone their skills and improve their team performances, as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.
Coming from a country with little to no hockey culture, the promising youngsters have traveled to the other side of the world as part of an effort to import top level European ice hockey expertise to China so that the Olympic hosts can be competitive when the Games begin.
The China Golden Dragons are being trained by Czech coach Jiri Sejba as part of a program led by a team of experts, including NHL legend Jaromir Jagr. The team will compete in the Czech 2. Liga for the 2019/20 season, which runs until January.
The group will be put through a specially designed training program to strengthen their individual and team skills at the Rytiri Kladno hockey club, about 30km outside Prague. The Czech Hockey Union has been working with the Chinese Ice Hockey Association for two years to bring Chinese coaches and players to the Czech Republic for training in the summer. Of those Dragons who have travelled to Europe, only the best will make the cut and join the team that competes under the Chinese flag when Beijing hosts winter sports’ biggest event.