By Joel Mac Dougall
Canada and the United States may be the favourite at this year’s IIHF World Women’s Hockey Championship, but two Swiss sisters are writing their own chapter in hockey history.
Never before has a pair of twins competed in the Women’s World Championship. That was until Julia and Stefanie Marty took to the ice at the Metro Centre this week for Team Switzerland.
“We’re excited to be here,” said Julia. “We’ve never been to such a big event.”
The Marty twins are part of a growing women’s hockey program in Switzerland. At the age of 15, Stefanie and Julia were also a part of the championship team in the top women’s league in Switzerland.
The Swiss team also boasts the youngest player in the Women’s World Championship. Florence Schelling, who just turned 15 last month, is splitting the goaltending duties for the team. Compare that with the fact that Team Canada’s average age is almost 27.
The Marty sisters began playing hockey at the age of eight. Now seven years later, they have developed into two of the top players in Switzerland.
Originally the two got started in figure skating, but they were looking for something a little more exciting. “Our brother played hockey,” said Julia. “And hockey is more fun to play.”
It is rare to ever see the one without the other. “We’re always together” said Stefanie. “We have all the same classes and all the same friends.”
Julia and Stefanie feel that their special connection gives them a bit of an advantage. “I know where (Stefanie) will play in special situations,” said Julia. “And it is good to have someone to speak to about the game.”
When taking the ice for the Swiss national team, the Marty sisters suit up for Zug-Seewen Herti in the country’s top women’s league.
Just three weeks ago their team won the league championship.
Even with all the pressure of playing in major international events, the sisters are still just regular teenagers. “We like snowboarding, and I play soccer in the summer sometimes,” said Julia. “I like all sports.”
Women’s hockey is growing in Switzerland and the rest of Europe, but is still nowhere near the level of the sport in Canada.
“I’m amazed by the media interest here,” remarked Julia. “In Switzerland there is not the same level of interest by the media.”
Stefanie and Julia Marty represent the future of Swiss women’s hockey. With rising young players such as Schelling and themselves, the future looks bright for the future of women’s hockey - in Switzerland and around the world.