It's not often that your town gets to host a World Championships in something. Well, it probably happens daily if your town is New York or London or somewhere, but if your town has 40,000 residents and is buried in the back end of the Carpathians, it seems like it would be particularly rare, to the point of being never. But this year alone (and may I remind you it's only mid March), we have hosted not one but TWO World Championship events. In January, Csikszereda was the venue for the World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Chamionships, while starting today is the World U18 Ice Hockey Championships (adds, in barely audible whisper, Division III). [You may notice a common theme to those two events, and I'm not just referring to the age group.]
Anyway, in January, the town, the rink and its next door hotel, the Fenyő, was witness to a susprising number of foreign visitors (i.e. more than one), with Japanese and Koreans wandering round the Profi supermarket (for some reason the world of Short Track Speed Skating is a very East Asian dominated sport). This week we don't have any East Asians, but we do have New Zealanders, South Africans, Israelis, Turks, and Bulgarians (as well as the Romanian squad, but I'm assuming many of them are from round here anyway). Now, you may be thinking that these nations don't have a particularly strong tradition of ice hockey, but that's just splitting hairs because you're jealous of how the world's attention is focussed on the Vakar Lajos ice rink, Miercurea Ciuc, this week.
The publicity for this event has been virtually non-existent, though, which is a pity. This may be because the tournament was supposed to take place in Israel, until the ice-hockey powers that be decided to shift it because of security concerns (perhaps they also discovered that Israel happens to be built in a desert). Then it was moved to Bucharest a month ago, and sometime in the last couple of weeks was shifted again to Csikszereda. I've seen precisely two posters advertising it, and both of those were affixed to the door of the rink itself. But hopefully the word will spread (it usually does since there's so little that goes on here normally), and the crowds will flock to the ice rink and watch the cream of the world's U18 talent (Division III).
I, as Csikszereda's official English language representative on the Internet, have been inundated with emails from proud or anxious parents trying to find out more news from this strangely obscure venue. Well, when I say inundated, I mean one bloke from New Zealand has written.
Anyway, it is my avowed intention to go down and watch a game or two, and revel in this feast of Ice Hockey