For Martina Fedel it’s a different story. This week she did not only improve her skills and learn new things about goaltending from former Olympians and international coaches. On Monday the International Olympic Committee members had to decide whether the 2026 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in her home country in Milan, or in Stockholm. And of all places she followed the news in Stockholm where she lives her life in and outside of ice hockey. And the winner was... Milan!
“I talked to some Italian friends and everybody was very happy and I’m very happy as well. Maybe I will able to play there,” Fedel said. “It will be very cool. It would be exciting to play there, more than only at World Championships. I would like to play there and work hard to play there.”
Fedel played her first U18 Women’s World Championship tournament (Division IA) for Italy last winter. The 16-year-old has another year of junior eligibility and would be 23 years old when Olympic ice hockey will be hosted at two venues in the city of Milan.
Fedel grew up in Pine close to Trento. It is the capital of the Trentino/South Tyrol region, Italy’s hockey hotbed in the northeast of the country. To play junior hockey she had to go to Fondo, about one hour away. But then her family moved even further due to her father’s work for a Swedish truck and bus manufacturer. They landed in Slovenia where she practised and played some games for Olimpija Ljubljana in the highest women’s league for the country.
And then came the offer for the family to move to Sweden. For Martina Fedel as a hockey goalie it was a decision she obviously didn’t mind and that influenced her career. She has now been for three years with Stockholm-based club SDE playing in the second-highest senior league, boys’ hockey and most recently even her first two games in the top Swedish women’s hockey league SDHL.
“It’s a very different level, both for boys and girls. It’s faster in Sweden, they play more competitive. Everyone in Sweden who plays hockey at our age wants to get somewhere in hockey and that’s what I would like to do, go to college, play in a high league. I’m happy that I moved there and play in Sweden,” Fedel said.
Hockey-wise there’s not that much she has to miss from her home country also since she’s now in the national team program.
“But I miss the relatives and friends I have there. I miss going skiing but now I focus on hockey, so maybe it’s better like that so I don’t get injured,” she said. And the food in Italy. “Everything that’s cooked in Italy is cooked in Sweden as well but pasta and pizza in Sweden is just not the same like in Italy.”
“I’ve been practising almost all season with them and then I played two games and was a backup. I was very excited to play these games,” she said. “I thought I was going to do bad because I never played against such good teams but I think I did pretty okay. I just tried to do my best and it worked pretty well. It was a very nice experience to play in the highest Swedish league as a 15-year-old.
“I look at Sofia because she’s the best goalie in our team, so I look at her. I also look at NHL goalies, every goalie there is good and hard working.”
This week she has been able to look at many other goalies too at the 2019 IIHF Goaltending Development Camp that aims at bringing goaltenders outside of the top-two countries in North America at a better level. There she was on a team with other under-18 netminders.
“I was pretty exciting when the national team called me for this camp. I’m very happy to here and to represent Italy at this camp,” she said.
“It’s very good here. Some things I heard before but then I also learned new things I haven’t heard before. It’s also very nice to have people here who played at the Olympics. They coach us, we can speak to them.”
With Italy being the host, she may have the unique chance to be at the Olympics as well. Last season the U18 national team was ranked 11th overall in the U18 Women’s World Championship program – the best place Italy has ever had in women’s hockey in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program. This season Fedel and her teammates reached the 12th position overall.
“I played the U18 World Championships. I will play them again and want to go to the senior national team and stay until the Olympics,” Fedel says about her plans in Italy while in Sweden she will approach her last year at high school and hopes to get a scholarship and play college hockey in North America after that.
Learning new things at this international goalie camp in Slovakia will hopefully give her some things on her way to achieve the dreams.