Winter Olympics 2018: Great Britain Women begin qualification bid in Kazakhstan

Great Britain Women
Great Britain Women are three stages way from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea

Great Britain Women ice hockey team will start their bid to reach their first Winter Olympics at a qualifying event in Astana, Kazakhstan.

They will face Kazakhstan, Poland and Mexico from 3 to 6 November as they look to reach the next qualifying stage for Pyeongchang 2018.

"There is a buzz around the squad at the moment," head coach Cheryl Smith told BBC Sport.

"It really is brilliant and this is very special for any athlete."

GB are three stages away from the prestige of a Winter Olympics and will look to improve on their showing of four years ago, when they lost out in the pre-qualification stages for Sochi 2014.

The GB men's team, who won Olympic gold in 1936, were eliminated in preliminary qualifying for Pyeongchang after finishing as runners-up in Italy in February.

Only the winners of the four-team group will go through to the next stage and GB Women start with a game against Mexico (09:00 GMT) on Thursday.

It will be followed by matches against Poland on 4 November (09:00 GMT) and Kazakhstan on 6 November (10:00 GMT).

"I think Kazakhstan will be very physical and quick, but then we have Poland who move the puck really well," Smith added. "They are two very different teams.

"We cannot underestimate Mexico despite the fact they are a lower-ranked team and came through the first qualifying stage."

All GB's games will be broadcast live on the BBC Sport website.