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Lars Lisspers, who represents the developing committee in IIHF, met Aku Nieminen in Riga at the World Hockey Championship symposium where they had help from students from the sport university Vierumäki in Finland. Today IIHF has got cooperation with Vierumäki and it was then naturally for Lisspers to ask Aku if he wanted to come to Sweden, Mora and do his practicum there. Aku was very interested and has now lived in Mora for a few months.

Studies and Riga
Aku is 24 years old and he comes from a little town in Finland named Somero. His big interest in sports made him try to get in to Vierumäki, and he made it. He is now studying a Degree Programme in Sports and Leisure Management in English. His Special minor is Team and Racket Sport Coaching (ice hockey). It is a three year education, and Aku is now working on his last year, a year of practicum. His practice is working as an assistant coach for J 18 and also as a teacher at the ice hockey high school in Mora. Except from that, he is working in the World Championship- organisation for the World Junior Hockey Championship. The Championship this year is going to kick of in Mora and Leksand, Sweden 26th of December - 5th of January. Aku ended up in Sweden after he had met Lars Lisspers in Riga where they were both working in the World Championship symposium. Today the Swedish ice hockey association has got cooperation with the Finnish sports institute in Vierumäki, and therefore Lisspers thought it was natural for him to ask Aku if he was interested in coming to Sweden as an exchange student and do his practice in Mora. Aku was very interested, and has now lived in Mora for a few months.

Exchange student in Canada
Aku played ice hockey when he was younger and went to Canada when he was 17 years old, to play some friendly games. Because British Columbia was a state where they only let Canadian players play, he had to play in a lower division. Another reason he went to Canada was to get a more international picture of ice hockey. Later ice hockey became more of "sauna playing" (ice hockey playing with a nice sauna after) with his friends just to keep the interest alive.

Thoughts about the World Junior Hockey Championship
Aku thinks it is going to be an exiting and joyful tournament with a lot of good teams.
- I would like to say that Finland or Sweden is going to win, but I still think that Canada is going to go home with the gold, he says. Canada has got a strong team, but so do Finland, Sweden and USA, so the games are going to be very interesting to follow.
As many other people, he names Nicklas Bäckström as a great player with a very good future. Also Tuukka Rask, goal keeper in the Finnish team, is a strong player, according to Aku.
- In the World Junior Hockey Championship one has the opportunity to see good ice hockey. It is a game of great speed and is very exciting to watch, Aku says.
Aku also wants to say that World Junior Hockey Championship is the most important and best chance for young players to show their talent and to be seen by the world.
- It is an incredible opportunity.
The future is still to come
Aku Nieminen feels that he has been given great opportunities and challenges this year. He appreciates them a lot. What he is going to do in the future is still to come. Time will tell if it is going to be some kind of "paperwork" in an organisation or coaching ice hockey.
By Joakim Elv and translated by Lina Päivärinta, both students at Mediacommunications program at the University in Dalarna.

Contacts:
World U20 Organisation: Per Strid, mobiltel: +46 73 962 19 50
Dalarna University: Marit Nybelius, mobiltel: +46 70 358 84 68

2007 IIHF World U20 Championship
The 2007 IIHF World U20 Championship will be played in Leksand and Mora during 26 December 2006-5 January 2007. Tickets can be bought from : www.ticnet.se or through www.destinytours.com. More information about the 2007 IIHF World U20 Championship: www.worldjuniors2007.com or at www.swehockey.se, www.iihf.com.

Best regards
THE SWEDISH ICE HOCKEY ASSOCIATION
Information Department
 
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