By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

The IIHF Council recommended a proposal of the IIHF Women’s Committee during its recent meeting in March to extend the number of participating teams in the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship from eight to ten teams.

All national associations participating in the program have been informed accordingly about this idea following the meeting to ensure the teams are aware of the initiative ahead of this year’s tournaments.

With the increasing number of participating teams – 37 countries are entered in the Women’s World Championship program in six tournaments – and the increasing competitiveness the proposal is to extend the number of teams in the top-tier event to ten teams as of the 2018/2019 ice hockey season and with this step aim for having ten teams at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

The top division has been played with eight teams ever since the first tournament in 1990, the only exception being the 2004 edition that featured nine teams (when one team was promoted but no team was relegated in 2003 due to the cancellation of the tournament in China because of the SARS outbreak).

Path to ten teams

The 2017 IIHF Annual Congress will discuss the proposal in May in Cologne during the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. If the IIHF membership accepts the proposal, the new format for 2018/2019 will be reached as follows:

  • No team in the entire 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program will be relegated.
  • Teams winning their division in the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program will be promoted to the next level as usual.
  • Similar like during the last Olympic year, the 2017/2018 season will not include a top-level Women’s World Championship due to the 2018 Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament while the other divisions will be played in 2017/2018. At all these tournaments the winning team will be promoted to the next level and no team will be relegated.
  • These steps will create a ten-team top division for the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Finland while the other divisions will operate with six teams as usual.

 
If the proposal will be approved, the IIHF Competition and Coordination Committee will work with the IIHF Women’s Committee to create the best possible playing format for the new ten-team IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship starting in the 2018/2019 ice hockey season.

No changes during 2017 IIHF WW

The proposal does for the moment not change anything in the events of the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program meaning that the last-ranked team in each division is considered relegated until the eventual approval of the new format in May and the best-of-three relegation round will be played at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship currently taking place in Plymouth, Michigan, USA, knowing that there are two possible outcomes for next season pending Congress’ decision about the new format.