A New York-based non-profit organization has broken the record for the world’s highest-altitude hockey game.
The Hockey Foundation, an organization that works to empower under-served youth and communities through the game of hockey, broke the record by playing a Guinness World Record-certified game earlier this week in the northern Indian Himalayan region of Ladakh.
“It was truly an unbelievable experience,” Benoit Hardy-Chartrand, a Canadian who played in the game, told CTV News Channel.
To set the record, the rink sat at 4,374 metres above sea level.
“I knew (The Hockey Foundation) had been going to India for a few years and I wanted to be a part of their activities here, but when I heard they were going to break the world record for the highest altitude game ever, I thought: ‘This was the year to do it.’”
Many of the players arrived in northern India about a week before the game to allow for their bodies to acclimatize to the altitude. Even with the adjustment time, Chartrand said the high altitude posed an added challenge on the ice.
“We’re talking about an altitude where we’re not supposed to do anything physical, let alone play a hockey game,” he said. “When we played the hockey game, it was extremely difficult. After every shift of 30 seconds we needed a lot of time and oxygen masks to get our fill of much-needed oxygen.”
Chartrand says hockey is already a fairly popular sport in the region. Locals routinely play on any frozen body of water they can find. Members of the team representing the organization even played against a local team which included a few players from the Indian national team.
“The local community, for sure, were extremely involved and extremely supportive of this event,” he said.
The charity travelled to India not only to play a hockey game, but they also brought hundreds of pieces of hockey equipment for the local communities. Since 2009, the organization has donated nearly 7,000 pieces of equipment to the region and has also helped coach nearly 3,000 players.
Very proud to have participated in “Hockey in the Himalayas” hosted by The Hockey Foundation in Leh-Ladakh ...a real-life example of the power of sport to empower a community @RandstadIndia pic.twitter.com/G5SMAfHW6J— Paul Dupuis (@Paul_DupuisRSTD) February 9, 2018