The organizers of the 2012 and 2013 IIHF World Championships believe in the wisdom of the old proverbs and that a tournament co-hosted by two hockey nation will be even greater than the sum of its parts.
Few hockey rivalries are more famous than the one between Finland and Sweden, and the classic games are numerous, ranging from the 1976 Canada Cup - where Finland lost all but one game; that against Sweden - to the 1986 World Championship game in Moscow where Sweden rallied back from 4-2 to 4-4 in 40 seconds, and left Finland out of the medal round, and to the 1995 World championship final game which Finland won, and the 2003 tournament quarterfinal in which Sweden rallied back from 5-1 to win the game 6-5.
But outside the rink, the bitter rivals will now join forces.
It’s been a while since either one of them hosted the IIHF World Championship. For Finland, the last time was in 2003, a tournament that was played in Helsinki just six years after their previous tournament. The last time Sweden hosted the tournament was in 2002 when Gothenburg, Jönköping, and Karlstad were the host cities, Gothenburg being the main venue.
But it’s not the first time in history that the World Championship is played in venues in different countries. In fact, the first IIHF World Championship, in 1930, was played in France, Germany, and Austria. Up until that point, hockey had been an Olympic sport in the previous three Games (1920 Summer Olympics, 1924, and 1928), which also counted as world championships.
Twelve teams competed in the 1930 Worlds, and while some current big hockey nations - like Finland and Sweden - didn’t participate, some things have always been the same: Canada, represented by the Toronto CCMs, won gold medal.
The main venue, through the semi-final stage, was Chamonix, France. The losers of the semi-final game played for the fourth place in Vienna, Austria, and the winners travelled to Berlin for their game for … not the gold, but for a spot in the final against Canada, which was considered such a force that they were given a free ticket to the gold medal game.
Canada beat Germany 6-1 in Berlin.
Germany won silver, their best finish ever, and Switzerland grabbed the bronze medals. The remaining teams were, in the order of the standings, Austria, Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Japan, Great Britain, Italy, and Belgium.
Since then, the World Championships have always been played in one country, until now.
Finland participated in the World Championship for the first time in Basel, Switzerland, in 1939. The team lost all five of their games, and finished 13th.
Sweden had participated in the 1920 Olympics (4th), the 1924 Olympics (4th), and the 1928 Olympics (silver), but didn’t ice a team in the 1930 World Championship. The year after that, Viking Harbom coached the team sixth in the tournament.