IOC Covers Stefan Liv Tribute on Swedish Mask
In case anyone was wondering why Swedish goalie Valentina Wallner has a giant white patch on the right side of her mask at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, it’s another case of the International Olympic Committee strictly enforcing its sometimes puzzling rules.
Wallner’s mask featured a portrait of the late national team goalie Stefan Liv, who won a gold medal at the 2006 Turin Games and became a friend and inspiration to Wallner as part of the Swedish team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics before being killed in the KHL place crash two years ago.
Wallner isn’t the only goalie to fall on the wrong side of IOC rules interpretations. American Jessie Vetter was forced to remove the opening lines from the U.S. Constitution from the back of her mask, and Finnish star Noora Räty was told to cover up her team’s battle cry from the backplate of her national team lid. Both could be interpreted as propaganda, it seems, and writing seems to be the biggest issue (American men’s goalie Jonathan Quick hasn’t had a problem with his stunning Tomb of the Unknown Soldier tribute to the U.S. military this year after being forced to remove “Support Our Troops” from his mask at the 2010 Games).
But the decision to cover up the Liv tribute doesn’t seem to fit. Liv was 30 when he died in the September 7, 2011 plane crash in Yaroslavl, Russia that killed the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team during take-off. Wallner was not impressed when she talked to the Los Angeles Times:
“I knew it was not allowed to have a political message or something like that, but the portrait of a friend and an Olympic player — I think it’s a ridiculous decision. Stefan was my role model, and I loved the man and the human being he was. To me it felt very proper to honor Stefan Liv as a person, a friend and an Olympic ice hockey player with a portrait of him on my helmet. But I guess I have to abide with the rules, so I put tape over the picture.”
Wallner wasn’t the only one asked to cover up, but it sure seems like this mask should have been an exception to the rules: