Story #98

Vsevolod Bobrov—a two-sport Olympian

HELSINKI, Finland & CORTINA, Italy — July 25, 1952 & February 4, 1956


Most athletes dream about going to the Olympics—winter or summer—but few realize those dreams. Only a rare group, though, play both the Winter and Summer Olympics. Vsevolod Bobrov was one such exceptional athlete. He represented the Soviet Union internationally in both hockey and soccer. As a soccer player, he scored 97 goals in 116 Soviet league games, winning the national championship three times. Bobrov joined Dynamo Moscow for its 1945 tour of Britain and drew rave reviews after scoring six goals against teams which included Chelsea, Arsenal, and Glasgow Rangers. He suited up for the Soviet national soccer team at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki and became a legend after scoring a hat trick in a 5-5-tie against Yugoslavia, arguably the most famous Olympic soccer game ever played. The Yugoslavs led 5-1 with 15 minutes left when Bobrov and his Soviets stormed back to tie the game.

Bobrov, however, fell in love with hockey and quit soccer one year after the Helsinki Olympics. Representing CDKA Moscow (predecessor to CSKA) and VVS Moscow, he won the Soviet hockey championship five times, scoring 254 goals in just 130 games. He had been a superb bandy player in his youth ("Russian hockey," it was called) and these skills paid off in the new game, "Canadian hockey." In one league game in 1951, Bobrov scored ten goals. He became the star player on the national team that played at the 1954 World Championship in Stockholm, the first time his country had played at the most prestigious international tournament. Bobrov led the team to a stunning 7-2 win over Canada's East York Lyndhursts, giving the team a gold medal in what is still considered one of the greatest upsets of all time.

Bobrov was again the hero two years later when the Soviet Union won its first Olympic hockey gold medal in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Overall, he scored 91 goals in 57 international games and later turned to coaching. Fifteen years after his retirement, Bobrov was behind the Soviet national team bench for the historic 1972 Summit Series against Team Canada's NHL players. Bobrov passed away in 1979 and was inducted to the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1997, the year it was created.

 

ABOUT THE TOP 100 STORIES

As part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations, www.IIHF.com is featuring the 100 top international hockey stories from the past century (1908-2008). Starting now and continuing through the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Canada, we will bring you approximately three stories a week counting down from Number 100 to Number 11.

 

The Final Top 10 Countdown will be one of the highlights of the IIHF's Centennial Gala Evening in Quebec City on May 17, the day prior to the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 World Championship.

 

These are the criteria for inclusion on this list: First, the story has to have had a considerable influence on international hockey. Second, it has to have had either a major immediate impact or a long-lasting significance on the game. Third, although it doesn't necessarily have to be about top players, the story does have to pertain to the highest level of play, notably Olympics, World Championships, and the like. The story can be about a single moment — a goal, a great save, a referee's call — or about an historic event of longer duration — a game, series, tournament, or rule change.

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