Adelaide Blackhawks

ICE HOCKEY: Two of Australia’s brightest young ice hockey prospects will put their skills to the test in Finland from 5-10 July, as they look to book their tickets to the 2016 Lillehammer Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Madison Poole and Jake Riley will take to the ice in Vierumaki as they aim for a top 15 finish at the Global Skills Challenge Summit and the chance to back up fellow Australian Sharnita Crompton’s bronze medal triumph at Innsbruck 2012.

The competition features six events that will test the athlete’s pace, accuracy and agility and is a chance for athletes that will not have the opportunity to be a part of the ice hockey team competition in Lillehammer.

One of Australia’s speediest skaters, Poole is a former national short track ice skating champion whose multiple junior records are still yet to be broken.

She loved the ice so much she took up ice hockey, figure skating and synchronised skating and is now a chance at living out her dream on the world stage.   

“It would mean everything to me to get a chance to go to the Youth Olympic Games,” Poole from Mindarie said.

“I’m now training a couple of days a week with Australian coach of the year Markus Frankenberger and his wife Jo on the specific skills challenges in the competition.”

With the opportunity to pull on the green and gold in Lillehammer at stake, the Australian U-18 representative and Brisbane Goannas senior star is putting in the hours to perfect her craft.

“I didn’t think I would ever get to this stage when I first started out but I’ve put so many hours in to get to where I am now.

“I can’t wait to get over to Finland and see what level I am against some strong competition.”

Poole, 15, will take on 31 other female athletes from around the world in Finland while her compatriot Riley will be one of 38 to take the field in the men’s competition.

And while the task is a little tougher for Riley the South Australian young gun is confident he can match it against the sport’s elite

“My dad is taking me the rink before school each day at 5:30am to practice each of the events in the competition,” Riley said.

“We’ve been testing how I’m going and I’m definitely improving. I’m getting more and more used to the events and am really confident in myself.”

Riley recently captained the U-16 South Australian side at the National Hockey Championships and is putting a lot of his recent success down to an ice hockey star who knows plenty about the sport in Finland.

“Sami Mantere used to play for the Finnish national side and then came to Adelaide and played here,” Riley said.

“He moved into the coaching area, found me and has now helped me so much.

“He’s taught me the standard I will need to be up to if I’m to compete well in Europe and given me training programs that will help me get to that level.”

Riley and Poole will be joined on the trip to Finland by Team coach Tamra Jones who is equally as confident that Poole and Riley will succeed on the international stage.

“I’m excited as I feel they both have a legitimate chance to position themselves in the top 15 should they perform to their potential on the day,” Jones said.

“Both are talented players with basic skills which are globally competitive within their age group in my opinion.”

The Team departs for Finland on July 3.

Matt Bartolo



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