Each year the World Championships of Ice Hockey is organized by the IIHF, which is the International Ice Hockey Federation. Before the world championships were born it was preceded by the European Championship which started in 1910 and ended in 1932. The first world competition was formed at the Summer Olympics in 1920. From there on ice hockey as a sport was featured at the Winner Olympics. The first official World Championships for the first three crowns were held at the Winter Olympics. Finally, in 1930 the World Championships became an actual event of its own was in 1930.
The Modern World IIHF Championships
Today’s format for the World IIHF Championships consists of sixteen competing teams in the championship group. There are two divisions below this group each comprising of twelve teams, if for some reason there are more than forty competing teams then a third division is added. The top division, The Championship firstly has preliminary and qualifying rounds to take away eight teams, then the remaining eight plays in the playoffs to battle out for the crown of World Champion.
It should be noted that until 1976 this competition was a strictly amateur championship and as such no players from the National Hockey League could compete. However, it was not quite a level playing field as the Soviet Union could have full time players as long as they were from the tractor or aircraft industries! As long as their employer had a social team playing hockey after work. Because of this Canada withdrew from the competition, and so in 1977 the World Championships granted permission for professional players to compete.
The Story So Far
Up to the present day a total of eighty-one tournaments have been held, including the championships that were competed for in the Winter Olympics. There was a gap in championships during WWII. During the history of the IIHF World Championships ten nations have won. As you might expect Canada is the leading winning nation having 48 championships under their belt. Sweden became the first ever nation to win hockey gold in both the World Championship as well as the Winter Olympics in the same year.
2018 IIHF World Championships
In 2018 the sixteen teams competing in Copenhagen will be, Canada, Sweden, USA, Switzerland, Norway, Slovakia, France, Austria, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus, Latvia, Denmark and Korea. The above teams are divided into two groups of eight for the first round, the top four teams in each group then progress to the quarter-finals that are competed crossover. So, the first placed team plays number four of the other group. The successful teams go on to the semi-finals and the winners play each other in the grand finale.
It is no doubt that hockey has indeed become a world sport, and the nations that compete come from all over the globe. In one sense it has been because of the success of the World Championships that has shown the world what an exciting and dynamic game hockey is. This has inspired many people to start playing the sport and enjoying the camaraderie that is inherent in it.