Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Canadian History and Society: Through the Lens of Sport Virtual Museum of Canada


Video Transcript

[Narrator - Rylan Strachan]

[Image of Jean Labonté's sledge]

This sledge represents the athletic achievements of the Canadian Ice Sledge Hockey Team, inclusion in the sporting world, and the ability to overcome major challenges.

[Action images of ice sledge hockey and close up of sledge blades]

Ice sledge hockey is a fast-paced and highly physical modified version of ice hockey played by athletes with a variety of physical disabilities that affect their lower body. It was invented in 1961 in Sweden. Rolf Johannson of Sweden, a Paralympic gold medallist, and two other athletes created the ice sledge from two skate blades attached to a metal sled frame to allow the puck to pass underneath.

[Images of sledge details including blades and end of sledge where feet are placed]

During the 1960's, ice sledge hockey spread from Sweden to Norway and then across Europe. By 1982, Canada had its first team. After some initial failures to gain momentum, success was found in Medicine Hat, Alberta as a result of the city allocating funds for sport programs for persons with disabilities. It was recognized as an official sport in Canada in 1993.

[Action images of ice sledge hockey]

Ice sledge hockey became an official event at the 1994 Paralympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Canada competed with teams USA, Norway, and Sweden for dominance in the ice sledge hockey world.

[Image of Jean Labonté playing ice sledge hockey, 1998 Paralympic medals]

In 1996, Jean Labonté of Quebec joined the national team after he lost his left leg to cancer. Canada won silver at the 1998 Nagano Paralympic Winter Games and medals at four world championships.

[Images of ice sledge hockey and fans]

Today, ice sledge hockey remains one of the most popular sports at the Paralympic Winter Games. The athletic achievements of Labonté and others demonstrate the perseverance and skill which "inspire and excite the world."

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