Home Sled Hockey Italy’s Gianluigi Rosa poised for stardom at IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification...

Italy’s Gianluigi Rosa poised for stardom at IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification Tournament

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Heading into this month's IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification Tournament, host nation Italy boast a veteran squad that includes two-time Paralympians Andrea Chiarotti and Greg Leperdi, in addition to the experienced slap shot of Florian Planker. But perhaps not enough people are looking at Gianluigi Rosa - a 24-year-old rising star on their defensive line who showed flashes of brilliance at the World Championships A-Pool earlier this year. Rosa, whose right leg was amputated at the thigh after a motorcycle accident, recorded 15 shots on goal at the Championships in Goyang, South Korea, more than any of his teammates, including the three aforementioned star forwards. One of those shots went past the posts. "Yeah ... that wasn't a very nice goal," Rosa joked when talking to Paralympic.org, humbled by the chance to score as a defenceman. Fans saw glimpses of Rosa's quick speed and playmaking abilities, though his time on the ice was hindered a bit, as he spent 14 minutes in the penalty box during the tournament. That's more time than any other defenceman spent behind the glass. Now, he'll try to qualify Italy's ice sledge hockey team for their third consecutive Paralympic Winter Games - and his second - when the Qualification Tournament takes place from 20-26 October in Torino. "A tournament like this is so important for growing the winter sport part of the Paralympic Movement in Italy," Rosa said. Italy finished in sixth place at the World Championships A-Pool, just missing out on a direct Sochi 2014 qualification spot after losing to Norway in a penalty shootout in the fifth-place game. Rosa could prove the difference for the Italians in Torino, where they will battle South Korea, Sweden, Germany, Japan and Great Britain for the final three Sochi 2014 spots. The Trento native previously competed on the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup circuit in 2009, and he qualified for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics in downhill and super-G, but he chose sledge hockey over the slopes, saying he prefers team sports. "I'm better in sledge hockey, and my skills are better for that sport," Rosa said. But Rosa insists he'll remain in the woodwork behind the three leaders until it's his proper time to shine. "Chiarotti is our leader," Rosa said. "He's the history of sledge hockey here in Italy and one of our first players." At the Qualification Tournament, expect Chiarotti to fill his tournament duty of relieving the tension prior to big games with his famous comical anecdotes. These have become a ritual for the Italian team at all of the major international events. The only further detail Rosa would reveal was: "A lot of them start off with, `There was an Italian, a German and an Englishman ...'" For more information on the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification Tournament, please visit the event website at http://www.paralympic.org/events/torino-2013. -ends- Notes to the Editor: IPC Ice Sledge Hockey The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement, and also acts as the International Federation for nine sports, including IPC Ice Sledge Hockey. The sport is governed by the IPC and co-ordinated by the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Sport Technical Committee, offering a wide range of competitions and events for athletes with an impairment in the lower portion of their body. For further information, please visit www.ipc-icesledgehockey.org, www.Twitter.com/IPCISH, www.Facebook.com/IceSledgeHockey or www.ParalympicSport.TV. Alternatively, please contact Craig Spence, IPC Director of Media and Communications on e-mail: craig.spence@paralympic.org or call +49-228-2097-230. 

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