The old precursor to hockey, bandy - that in one form or another has been played throughout Europe since medieval days - is still popular in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and is played these days with rules originating in 19th century Wales, but slightly modified to adjust for some of the rules the Russians had in their version dating back to the 18th century court of Peter the Great (no, not Forsberg, a Russian czar). The rules are very similar to soccer, including the size of the rink/pitch, the 2x45 minute format, eleven a side and minimal substitutions, and allowing for shoulder to shoulder contact but no real hits.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/sport ... wanted=all
There are forces in motion to make this an Olympic sport; I think it will be an exhibition sport at the 2014 games and expected to have full Olympic status in 2018.
Yet the on-going world championships have made me worry... There's really just Sweden and Russia that are competing, and the rest is pretty much filler.
Sweden's four games so far:
Win against Finland 12-0
Win against Norway 11-0
Win against Kazakhstan 9-1 (!) We actually allowed a goal against!
Win against the USA 15-0
Actually, I guess you can say the Russians have been struggling comparably:
Win against the USA 19-3
Win against Finland 5-4
Win against Norway 16-1
Win against Kazakhstan 8-6
Canada is playing in the B-championships, and actually doing rather well at that level.
Win against the Netherlands 11-1
Win against Hungary 11-1
Maybe they have smelled the possible future Olympic medals and started to take this game seriously and work their way up?
They're facing Belarus later tonight.
Meanwhile, Japan participates in the C-championship where they absolutely killed Kyrgyzstan 13-0 after losing to Estonia 6-2.
Historically the USSR/Russia has won the world championships twenty times(14+6), Sweden ten times and Finland once.
Apart from their one gold, Finland also has seven silvers and 19 bronzes!
Norway has one silver and one bronze and Kazakhstan has two bronzes.
No other nations have ever medalled.
I'm seriously not sure this sport is ready for the Olympics, but then again... Women's hockey is almost as lopsided.
And also, perhaps Olympic status will help it take off.
India actually has a few club teams playing in the Himalayas, and considering how big field hockey is there, who knows?