Sports in Russia – Bandy


Bandy is the “elder brother” of hockey, and Russia played a big role in its development (and retaining as a separate kind of sport). Folk amusements resembling bandy were known in Russia already before the Middle Ages and Emperor Peter I was very fond of them. That is why when at the end of the XIX century English workers brought this variety of hockey, the seeds were dropped into fertile soil. In 1897 enthusiastic sportsman Petr Moskvin developed single bandy rules for Russia and already on March 8, 1898 the first match was played in St. Petersburg. This date is called the “birthday” of Russian bandy.

At the beginning of the XXth century bandy was very popular in Russia. Intercity tournaments started in 1903, and in 1910 Russia, Germany and Nordic countries established the Northern Bandy Union. However the parties failed to agree on the common rules and Russia continued to develop bandy on its own. In the USSR the interest to bandy grew further. In 1922 the first bandy championship took place and afterwards competitions of town and national level took place regularly.

In the world Canadian hockey was gaining popularity while the USSR kept bandy traditions. Many footballers played it between seasons and hockey players combined both games. Bandy made considerable impact on the Russian school of Canadian hockey. In 1954 the USSR (together with the Nordic countries) helped the revival of the world interest to bandy by finally developing the common rules. World championships have started from 1957, 25 of 39 were won by the national team of the USSR and afterwards Russia leaving behind the main competitors – the Swedish team.

Dinamo-Moskva team contributed a lot to bandy history in the 1970s. In the 1980s the baton was taken by powerful Yenisey from Krasnoyarsk. In the 1990s there started a calm period, but in early 2000s there appeared Vodnik team that seemed practically unbeatable. Unfortunately the change of coaches and players did not make good to it and teams Dinamo, Yenisey, and Zorkiy left it behind. Due to their wins Russia has a strong lead at most international competitions that cannot help inspiring optimism.