FRIBOURG AS SEEN BY…
THE FRIBOURG LEGEND WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD
Catching a HC Fribourg-Gottéron game in the BCF Arena is a must for many locals.
He had his pick of NHL teams, but it was Fribourg where the Russian ice-hockey star Slava Bykov decided to park his skates in 1990. “The fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening up of Russia’s political system meant that professional athletes were finally able to take up opportunities abroad. “I was approached by prestigious Northern American clubs, but in the end I put my family first: if I played outside of Europe, I would have to spend a lot of time travelling back and forth, and be away from home for long periods.” So, five-time world champion and Olympic gold medal winner, Viatcheslav (Slava) Bykov plumped for Switzerland, “which I really liked when I was here in the 1980s playing in competitive matches”. He signed with the “Dragons” of Gottéron, and soon his wife and their two young children joined him in Fribourg. So began a love affair “both professionally and personally” between the man from Chelyabinsk and the canton. For seven years, he sported the number 90 jersey of Fribourg Gottéron, and together with his fellow countryman, Andrei Khomutov, made up an unforgettable double act.
The love affair between Bykov and Fribourg endured long after he left the Dragons, initially to play with Lausanne Hockey Club, before going on to coach CSKA Moscow and the Russian national team. “I am someone who is very loyal. Why should I move if I am happy where I am?” His children went to school in the canton. Now grown up, his son Andrei is a star player with Fribourg Gottéron. It was also in the canton, more precisely in Marly, where Bykov obtained his Swiss passport in 2004. Almost 30 years since he arrived, he considers himself “a real Dzodzet” (patois word for a man from Fribourg)”. He is particularly touched by the attachment that the people of Fribourg have for traditions, “I love the village fêtes, fairs and Bénichon (ed.: harvest festival).” When his friends and family come to visit, he always takes them out to sample local specialities. Above all, though, “I love giving them a glimpse into my day-to-day life, letting them breathe in the Fribourg air: it’s really quite something!”
Slava Bykov's favourites ❤ : see photograph