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While many hockey players in the northern hemisphere are sweating in the hot summer to prepare for the upcoming season, hockey players in South America played pond hockey in Antarctic Chile in one of the southernmost towns in the world.
Until now Ushuaia in Argentina and Punta Arenas in Chile have been the southernmost cities where ice hockey has been played. Ushuaia has now been beaten by about seven minutes of a latitude or about 13 kilometres (8 miles) further south in what is believed to be the southernmost ice hockey games ever – although on a small rink with three-on-three skaters.
The tournament took place on the Laguna Zanartu outside of Puerto Williams, a town of less than 3,000 inhabitants that is the capital of the Antarctica Chilena province and depending on the definition of a city also considered the southernmost city in the world. The weather has been around freezing point for the last two months to allow playing pond hockey there for the first time.
The Copa Hermandad Patagonica included six teams from the southern part of Chile and neighbouring country Argentina, located across the Beagle Channel, including a team with international players. It was organized by Onashaga Expeditions, an Ushuaia-based tour operator that works on both sides of the channel. The cities have an air distance of just 47 kilometres (29 miles) but are only connected by a 40-minute boat trip run by tourism operators. The only other mean of transportation to reach Puerto Williams on Navarino Island is by taking a 75-minute regular flight from Punta Arenas on the mainland or a not less picturesque boat trip from there that takes about 36 hours.
The playing field near Puerto Williams is located at a latitude of almost 54.94° South. That’s about the same distance to the south pole like the cities of Newcastle in England, Copenhagen in Denmark, Omsk in Siberia or Grande Prairie in northwest Alberta have to the north pole although winters tend to be less cold in Puerto Williams.
The tournament also included nine female players as in the spirit of the tournament each team had to include at least one woman.
The event ended up with a local rivalry between teams from Ushuaia where the only full-size ice rink of South America is located next to the shore – and outdoor. Club Andino de Ushuaia (CAU) finished the tournament undefeated with five wins after beating Los Nires 9-2 and became the first to claim the Copa Hermandad Patagonica trophy.
While the season for outdoor hockey comes to an end in the southern hemisphere, ice hockey is played indoor elsewhere as the season comes to an end in the upcoming weeks in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Have a look at the tournament in this video from the Antarctica Chilena province.