The organizers of the 2021 World Championship – which will be co-hosted by Minsk and Riga, the capital cities of neighbouring countries Belarus and Latvia – selected the mascot in a contest held in both countries. More than 100 designs were submitted by both professional artists and hockey fans.
The hedgehog is one of the most common animals in the world, is associated as being very smart and quick-witted. Everyone can envy the speed of his reaction. And even though the animal is not big at all, it always fights to the end, using not only spines, but also its sharp teeth. That is what the hockey teams of Belarus and Latvia are famous for – their toughness and determination to fight for victory until the final whistle.
The selection was made in fan polls in Belarus and Latvia anywhere from shopping malls to online polls as well as by a celebrity jury consisting of Belarusian hockey legend and Dynamo Minsk head coach Mikhail Grabovski, four-time Olympic biathlon champion Darya Domracheva, Comedy Club Show resident Andrei Skorokhod, Bi-2 frontman and UFC champion Andrei “Pitbul” Arlovski, Olympic champion in freestyle Anna Guskova, Belarusfilm director general Vladimir Karachevski and Belarusian Ice Hockey Association chairman Gennadi Savilov from the Belarusian side; Latvian Ice Hockey Federation president Aigars Kalvitis, showmen Armands Simsons and Aivis Cerins, head of the Latvian Olympic Committee Edgars Buncis, guitarist of the Brainstorm band Janis “Magic” Jubalts, singer Intars Busulis and Bite Latvia CEO Kaspars Buls on the Latvian side.
The submitted proposals were evaluated by the jury according to several parameters: graphics, correspondence to the theme, creativity, and compliance of the character with the traditions and culture of Belarus and Latvia.
Different prizes were given for different ideas in both countries with the idea of the hedgehog coming from designer Janis Burmeisters, who got most votes in Latvia. In Belarus the design of a may beetle by Dmitri Galinovski and Pavel Marchenkov (AIDA Pioneer Group) got most votes by fans, and a raccoon by Anna Novik, Nikita Ustinovich and Anastasia Maximovich (DAB.) was the jury’s favourites in a tight race for points with the hedgehog.
The hedgehog is one of the most popular characters in the Belarusian and Latvian mythology and was further developed by the DAB. Creative agency with elements from their raccoon proposal to add more dynamics and energy to the initial design to reflect the organizers’ slogan “Passion. No Borders” and implement the national colours from both countries. A truly Belarusian-Latvian mascot with elements from designers of both countries was born to get the most from the best proposals.
“The mascot of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will become a symbol of Belarus and Latvia, a symbol of hockey, that’s why we were looking for something common, created a story and made the character vibrant,” DAB. Creative agency director Nikita Ustinovich said. “We wanted the character to become a favourite of all hockey fans but also those who normally don’t follow hockey. The hedgehog is our hero. Comparing its character and qualities with ice hockey, we realized that the image of the hedgehog represents both of our national teams very well: hardworking, fast, agile, capable of standing up to the opponent at the ice rink when needed.”
Belarus and Latvia were awarded the right to co-host the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship at the IIHF Annual Congress in May 2017. The event will be hosted from 7 to 23 May 2021 in the capitals of both countries in the 15,086-seat Minsk Arena and the 10,300-seat Arena Riga.