Laaksonen to play in her fourth Olympics, four Buckeyes to compete in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Former defenseman Emma Laaksonen and current forward Minttu Tuominen of the Ohio State women’s hockey team have been named to the Finnish Women’s National Team to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. The team was officially announced Wednesday with Laaksonen making her fourth appearance in the Olympics while Tuominen, in her freshman season with the Buckeyes, is making her first. Both are natives of Espoo, Finland.

“We are very excited to have two Buckeyes representing Finland at the upcoming Olympic Games,” Jackie Barto, the 11-year head coach at Ohio State, said. “This will be Emma’s fourth Olympics which is outstanding. She is an incredible leader both on and off the ice and she works hard to compete at the highest level. Minttu has worked very hard as well to accomplish her goal of being named to the Olympic Team.”

Laaksonen and Tuominen join two other Buckeye products going to the Games with Tessa Bonhomme (2004-08) on Team Canada and Lisa Chesson (2005-08) on Team USA. It is the first Olympic appearance for both defensemen.

“We are thrilled to watch the Olympics and see four Buckeyes competing for three different countries,” Barto said. “We are very proud of their accomplishments and the way they represent their countries, Ohio State and the sport of women’s hockey. They have all worked extremely hard to reach this level of play and it will be wonderful to watch them compete on the top international stage in Vancouver.”

Ohio State’s first All-America selection in 2002, Laaksonen has been a cornerstone in the development of women’s hockey in Finland. She has served in various leadership roles, including co-captain of the team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Turin, and in 1998 helped Team Finland to the bronze medal to become the youngest Olympian to medal for the country at 16 years old. Finland has finished fourth at the 2002 and ’06 games. Laaksonen was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame last September and her No. 3 was retired by the Ohio State women’s hockey program in October 2008.

Tuominen has competed with the Finnish National Team throughout the last two years, including two international competitions during the 2009-10 season. She recently returned from the 2010 MLP Cup in Ravensburg, Germany, and also played in the 2009 Four Nations Cup last November in Finland. It was her second appearance with the national team in both events. Tuominen has eight points (3g, 5a) in 16 games with the Buckeyes this season.

Prior to Tuominen playing at Ohio State, she was teammates with Laaksonen on the Espoo Blues that won the Finnish Championship three times from 2007-09.

The Finnish Women’s National Team begins play at the 2010 Winter Olympics Feb. 14 against Russia. The only meeting between Buckeyes in the preliminary round will be Finland vs. the United States, Feb. 18. The two teams also meet in a preparatory game Feb. 4 in Colorado Springs, Colo., before the puck drops in Vancouver.