Former Olds resident Lorrie Horne celebrated her gold medal victory with Canada’s U-21 ringette team by scuba diving in Iceland earlier this month.
“The water’s between two and four Celsius. It’s fresh water, visibility is 300 feet and it’s a dive where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet. You can touch both on this dive at the same time,” Horne said.
Horne is the head coach for the team, which competed at the 2016 World Ringette Championships in Helsinki from Dec. 27 to Jan. 4.
They swept Finland’s U-20 team in the best-of-three final series, winning the clinching game 10-9 in overtime.
Team Canada blew through the round robin, winning all six games by a combined score of 126-6.
Finland and Canada are the world’s ringette powers.
Horne’s coaching career spans more than 20 years, part of it spent in Finland’s National League. She also played there and saw how it has spurred the sport’s growth in the country.
“They’ve done a very good job at overall long-term athlete development. The kids that start in the club end up growing up to play in that club. It’s a very competitive league.”
Horne, now residing in Sherwood Park, grew up on a farm near Olds, attended Reed Ranch School and then graduated from Olds High School.
She started playing hockey with boys in Torrington in Grade 7.
The boys were growing and she couldn’t keep up, Horne said.
Her mother worked in the emergency room at the hospital in Olds. One of the doctors there had children playing ringette and suggested that Horne pick it up.
The sport is more than just hockey with a bladeless stick and a ring instead of a puck — the rules are very different.
Instead of faceoffs, play starts with a free pass. Teams work with a 30-second shot clock. Players cannot carry the ring over either blueline — it must be passed.
Although ringette features five skaters and a goalie per team, the game is played three-on-three in offensive zones, marked by freeplay lines across the top of faceoff circles. Players rotate in and out of the zone.
The game’s flow resembles basketball and is faster than hockey, Horne said.
A 2008 inductee into the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame, Horne is a decorated coach. She led Team Canada to gold in 2002, silver in 2004 and won bronze for Team USA in 2000.
She’s enjoying the U-21 players, many of whom are still in school. Horne is trying to build a foundation of young women to feed the senior program.
“They’re very smart young women, very bold and they absolutely worked their tails off for you. The seniors do as well but it’s a much different age group.”