Richard "Bibi" Torriani

This is Richard "Bibi" Torriani, one of the great sporting and hockey pioneers of Switzerland.

Torriani twice won Olympic bronze medals in hockey, both times on home ice. In 1928 he helped Switzerland finish third in St. Moritz. Twenty years later the games returned to the same beautiful Swiss city, and once again Torriani helped his team capture another bronze medal.

The 1948 games were very special for Torriani. He was the toast of the country as he carried the Swiss flag at the opening ceremonies and, as pictured, took the Olympic oath on behalf of 919 competitors that year.

Those two bronze medals remain the only Olympic medals ever won by Switzerland in hockey. It also marks the longest period of time between Olympic medal podium appearances by an athlete at the Winter Olympics.

Torriani also competed in the 1936 Olympics and in 11 World Championships, winning silver in 1935 and bronze five times. He also led Switzerland in 11 European Championships, twice winning gold, in 1935 and again in 1939. All told Torriani played in 111 games for the Swiss national team and scored 86 goals.

In the Swiss league "Bibi" starred from 1927 through 1951, most famously with HC Davos. Along side legendary "ni sturm" (ni line) linemates Pic and Hans Cattini, Torriani captured 18 Swiss league titles.

He later coached club teams in Germany and Switzerland as well as the Swiss and Italian national teams in the 1950s At the same time competing in the sport of luge. He even won a silver medal at an event in the 1957 World Luge Championships. Fittingly, the championships were held in Switzerland (Davos).

Statistical records are sketchy but Torriani may have scored nearly 800 goals in about 500 club team games. He was the Gordie Howe of Swiss hockey, and one of the top in all of Europe pre-1950. There was even some rumoured interest from the NHL.

Richard "Bibi" Torriani was inducted into the IIHF Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.

In March 2009 there was an interesting article about Torriani's family in the Montreal Gazette. Torriani's son, Marco, was also a professional hockey player, including for HC Davos. Grandson Andrew has his own interesting hockey career. He was born in Holland and raised in South Africa, which is why he never became much of a hockey player himself. He went on to become a big wig with the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, and is stationed in Montreal where he has immersed himself with his family's game and coaches youth hockey.


James Benesh said...

I've read that in Josef Malecek's heyday, among european players only Bibi Torriani could compare with him.

Anonymous said...

Es gab einen Schlager - there was a song in German, something like
does anyone remember more?
My aunts singing it.


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