Swedish American Chamber of Commerce San Diego had the opportunity to meet Viktor Fasth, a Swedish ice hockey goalkeeper that plays for Anaheim Ducks in the National Hockey League (NHL).
Viktor was born 1982 in Norrbotten, in a city called Kalix in Sweden’s northernmost parts. Viktor played for the Stockholm team ‘AIK’ in Elitserien, the highest hockey division in Sweden, from 2010 to 2012 where he received the Honken Trophy award both years. Honken Trophy award was given to Viktor twice as he was elected the best ice hockey goalkeeper in Elitserien two years in the row. Viktors impressive save percentage during his time in Elitserien was 92,45% in the season 2010-2011 and 93,14% in the season 2011-2012. Viktor debuted in NHL on January 26, 2013. Fasth founded an early success in the NHL, starting the season 8-0-0 – the best start by a goalkeeper in the regular season as a starter since Ray Emery of the Ottawa Senators won his first nine games between the end of 2002-03 and the beginning of the 2003-04 season.
How old were you when you started playing hockey?
I was five years old.
Was hockey popular in Kalix, where you grew up?
Bandy has always been very popular in Kalix, so it wasn’t that common to play hockey. My dad was very involved in hockey, it felt natural for me.
Did you play any other sports besides hockey when you grew up?
I played soccer until I was fourteen years old. Then I participated in a Swedish tournament, called “TV-Pucken,” which is a hockey tournament for different district teams in Sweden. After that tournament I decided that I wanted to play hockey.
When did you figure out that you wanted to be a ice hockey goalkeeper? Did you play other positions before?
I played many positions at first but when I was 12 or 13 years old, I decided that I wanted to become a goalkeeper. I was thrilled by the role that a goalkeeper has, that you make a big difference and the fact that it only is a thin line between being a rescuer and a scapegoat. It was on of the reasons, and the other reason was that I thought that they had cool helmets.
Is the helmet still important to you?
Absolutely, it’s very special to me. David Gunnarson, an artist from Sweden, designs my helmet. He’s very good and he knows exactly how to picture and capture what I want on my helmet. He’s amazing.
You’ve been very successful in your carrier. You went from Elitserien, the highest hockey division in Sweden, to NHL in only three years. How has that journey been?
It has definitely been an interesting and fun journey. I have dreamed about this my whole life. I feel amazing to be where I am today.
Is there a big difference between AIK the team you played for in Sweden and Anaheim when it comes to the hockey atmosphere?
It’s definitely a big difference. People are more competitive here in Anaheim compare to Sweden. In Sweden, you sign your contract with your club and you’re set. Here, they put more pressure on you to perform well.
Do you think Anaheim is a “hockey city”?
I think people are very positive when it comes to hockey, especially since Los Angeles became champions last year. Now the crowds are amazing and almost all of our games have been sold out. I think that speaks for itself.
You started to play in NHL when you were a bit over the average age. Do you think there would be a big difference if you were to play at a younger age?
There’s definitely a difference. Of course I would have loved it if I started to play in NHL when I was eighteen. But at the same time, I’m very happy that I started playing in my later years. I know what it takes now. I think it’s a great advantage to experience what I’ve experienced when it comes to trusting my way of playing and feeling comfortable with what I do. I think that it is harder to trust your play and feel comfortable with what you do when you are younger.
What made you succeed in 2009?
For the last three years, I have had the opportunity to work with a really good goalkeeping coach. He has helped me develop and become better and better every day. His name is Stefan and he is the goalkeeper coach for AIK. Together we looked into my way of playing, changed it a bit and focused on details. It really made a difference and that made me want to work harder and realize that you never should be satisfied and never stop to endeavor to become better.
How many hours per day do you practice?
I’m in the rink daily, approximately from 8am until 2 pm. It depends on my schedule.
What advise would you like to give to young hockey players?
Practice, practice. And never give up! It is never to late to become a better player and reach your dreams. If you work hard and put in effort, you will become a better hockey player. It is only you that define your own boundaries. You have to keep on practicing and developing if you want to succeed.
SWEDISH AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BRIEFLY
The Swedish American Chamber of Commerce in San Diego is a thriving network of companies and individuals interested in the commercial and social exchange between Sweden and the Southern California’s San Diego region.
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San Diego CA, 92109
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