Fewer Latvians expected at 2018 ice hockey championship

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Each year, thousands of ice hockey fans from Latvia flock to the world championships to support their team in person. Nevertheless, this year fewer hockey enthusiasts than usual are expected to attend, instead following their team on TV screens, reports LSM's Latvian-language service.

There are several reasons for this, as attested to by the fans themselves. Team Latvia is missing several important players this year; there have been disastrous results in warm-up games (Latvia lost every single one); and then there's the fact that Denmark is expensive and there's little to see, fans say, at the location of the championships - namely, Herning in Jutland's peninsula.

"It seems not all hockey players want to play in Team Latvia. Whether it's because of money, insurance, or other reasons. But it's clear some have no spark in them left for spring ice hockey," said Ieva Nadziņa, a long-time fan of Team Latvia who'll be watching the games on the TV screen this year.

Meanwhile Irish Latvian Jānis Mačs - also a long-time supporter and drummer at the arena - says there'll be fewer fans from Ireland present as well, but he says it's because of the lineup not the weak results in warm-up games.

"The line-up, I think, also influences people's views on the team, as they're used to seeing Kaspars Daugaviņš, Zemgus Girgensons, Artūrs Kulda and Lauris Dārziņš play. But this year we'll have to do without them," said Mačs. 

Imants Mālmanis, meanwhile says that this year attending costs more, but he will go all the same. "The line-up does not worry me. As usual, there's talk of us falling down to a lower division. I don't think it will happen, but I would attend the next one the same," he said. 

Both Nadziņa and Mačs said that Denmark is expensive and there's precious little to do in Herning. Travel experts say if Latvia's games would take place in Copenhagen, more Latvians would attend. 

Latvia will open the tournament on May 5 against Norway. Bars and homes are expected to tune in to LTV, which will broadcast Latvia's games, with copious amounts of beer to be consumed throughout the country over the course of the championship. 

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