By Emily Goddard

Sochi is hosting the Channel One Cup at the Bolshoy Ice Dome ©Sochi 2014December 19 - Sochi welcomed ice hockey teams from Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic as the next Winter Olympics host city opened the Channel One Cup today.

The Russian city is hosting five of the tournament's six meetings through to Sunday (December 22), with a scheduled match between the Czechs and the Finns being held in Prague today, as the home nation looks to defend its title at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

The competition will also act as a final pre-Games ice test ahead of Sochi 2014 - due to get underway in 50 days' time - and will feature the presentation of the official pucks for the Olympic ice hockey and Paralympic ice sledge hockey tournaments during the first break of Saturday's (December 21) match between Russia and Finland.

Hockey Federation of Russia President Vladislav Tretiak, a three-time Olympic champion in the sport, and Sochi 2014 President and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko will be in attendance.

Russia will be looking to defend their Channel One Cup title ©Getty ImagesRussia will be looking to defend their Channel One Cup title ©Getty Images

The annual Channel One Cup, which has been held since 1996, is the part of the Euro Hockey Tour and is considered as a preparatory stage for the World Championships and the Olympic Games.

The four teams - Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic - each host a tournament during the year, with points available at the matches.

The winning nation is that with the most points after all the tournaments are complete.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
July 2013: NHL players to compete at Sochi 2014 Olympics