Gunnar Fast – The Bandy Missionary
The Federation of International Bandy recognizes and honors Gunnar Fast, “The Bandy Missionary” for his supreme contribution to US Bandy and thus to the entire bandy world.
In December 1980 Gunnar was both a Captain in the Swedish Army and a Certified Bandy Instructor. When Gunnar arrived in Minnesota there were only four bandy nations, The Soviet Union, Sweden, Finland and Norway. Gunnar’s mission was to make the US the fifth bandy nation. He was extraordinarily successful. Within one month of arriving in Minnesota Gunnar had converted over 100 hockey players into bandy players, formed a league with seven teams who then competed for the first US bandy championship. Gunnar then organized and coached the first US national team and brought them to Sweden in October 1981.
By the 1984-85 season Gunnar had expanded the US league to 24 teams competing in three divisions. He also continued to bring US teams to Sweden where they annually competed in the World Cup Ljusdal as well as against various Swedish elite teams. Gunnar then led the US National Team as they competed in the World Championships for the first time in Oslo 1985. Gunnar was the architect of US Bandy and was a positive influence on a generation of US bandy players. Not surprisingly, the US Championships, held every year since 1981, is named the Gunnar Cup in his honor. In 2014 Gunnar was among the initial inductees into the US Bandy Hall of Fame. There is no doubt that Gunnar Fast, through his contributions to US Bandy, also changed the bandy world, beginning the growth of bandy to the present number of 27 nations. Gunnar Fast is truly “The Bandy Missionary”.