Finland's Michelle Karvinen doing double duty at 2019 IIHF Women's World Championship
Michelle Karvinen is doing double duty at the 2019 IIHF Women's World Championship. The 29-year-old Finnish hockey forward, who won Olympic bronze medals in 2010 and 2018 and led the 2014 Olympics in scoring, actually designed the official logo for this home-ice tournament taking place April 4-14, in Espoo, Finland, just outside Helsinki.
The logo features a silhouette of Karvinen's longtime linemate Riikka Sallinen (previously Valila, originally Nieminen), a 45-year-old IIHF Hall of Famer who is the oldest woman ever to play Olympic hockey. Karvinen has a bachelor's degree in graphic design and communications from the University of North Dakota. She led the Swedish women's league playoff scoring race as she helped Lulea rally past archrival Linkoping in last month's finals.
espnW: How did you get the chance to design the Women's Worlds logo?
Michelle Karvinen: It was pretty early in the process. The Finnish federation came to me and asked if I thought it would be fun, if I wanted to do it. It was quite an easy decision. Of course, I was very honored and pretty much said yes right away.
espnW: The logo incorporates the blue and white Finnish flag colors, Riikka Sallinen's number, 13, and a frozen lake with a forest. What was your mindset?
MK: I wanted the logo to have a lot of history, not just for my country, but also for the history of women's hockey in Finland. So, of course, Riikka came to my mind really early. I asked if they would be OK with me doing a little tribute to her in the logo somehow. They said yes right away. I was absolutely pumped about it. Obviously, I know a lot about her career and what she's done for women's hockey in Finland. But also, I've had the experience of playing with her for a while now. She's a role model for me, both on and off the ice. She's an amazing person that I look up to very much.
espnW: Riikka's history includes playing in the first women's worlds, in 1990, and the first Olympic women's hockey tournament, in 1998. What did she think about you making the logo?
MK: I didn't say anything. She didn't know anything before it was published for everyone. I wanted to keep it as a surprise. She was a little speechless. I just told her why I wanted to do it, and she was really happy. I think the main thing she said all the time was, "It's too much!" I was like, "No!" It was special.
espnW: How much longer do you believe Riikka will play?
MK: I don't know. She's one of those players. Every time you think, "OK, maybe this is the end," then it's another year. And then the next season, it's the same thing. I think the only one who knows the answer to that question is her. I have learned from experience not to say anything, because you never know.
espnW: So what made you decide to study graphic design at UND?
MK: I tried a couple of different majors but didn't really feel at home anywhere. One of my teammates knew I liked photography and, in general, everything that's creative. She said to me: "You should try graphic design." I went to talk to them, and I just loved it right away. It didn't feel like going to school anymore. It was so much fun. Ever since, I've stuck with it. I've been working now for the past four years as a graphic designer.
espnW: How has that career unfolded?
MK: First, I worked for a company here in Lulea in northern Sweden. It was a good two years, and I got a lot of experience. But then, I took a year off for the Olympics. This year, I got a new job with a company called Creek Media, and it's actually in Stockholm. I can do everything from a distance, so I just have to be there once in a while. I'm the only graphic designer at the company, so it's a great opportunity. I get so much responsibility, and I feel like I've grown a lot as a graphic designer this year. I get to really challenge myself every day. It's a lot of fun. It keeps my mind fresh.
espnW: You just won your third Swedish championship with Lulea in front of 4,808 fans. You're one of five Finns on that team. Why are top Finnish female players going to Sweden?
MK: Everything is better here, even just being able to get some money for playing. It allows us to focus more on hockey and not on so many other things in life, like jobs and stuff. For Lulea here, they're putting a lot of effort into the women's team and creating a good training environment for us here to train in the morning and be able to get on the ice when we want to, things like that. That doesn't really exist in Finland in the same way. They're still some steps behind. I think there are a lot of things happening now, and hopefully with these women's worlds in Finland, it will give it another push.
espnW: Looking ahead to the women's worlds, Finland has 12 bronze medals all time -- more than any other country. What would it mean to knock off a superpower like the U.S. or Canada on home ice and make the final for the first time?
MK: It would mean a lot, obviously, for us as players. But I also think for the future of the Finnish national team, it would be huge. Because now it's been many years trying to make this happen, and it just hasn't happened. That last victory of making it to the final or even challenging for the gold, I think that's the next step for us, to keep this development going.
espnW: Do you plan to play at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing?
MK: Yeah. I can't see why not, but I try to take it year by year. Obviously, always the first year after the Olympics, it's a little tough. Even though we have the home Worlds, it's such a big goal, and it feels like another four-year contract every time to get to the Olympics. So I think it's most important to stay present and enjoy the moment, so you don't think too far ahead, because then it can maybe be too much, you know? But as of right now, I love playing hockey and I can't see why not.