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02-17-2010, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Ohashi_Jouzu View Post
Well I know that strength in sports can ebb and flow with time, but if we're to talk about the history of handball, does Sweden not have by FAR the greater number of appearances and "golds" in international play? And does Norway not fall somewhere in between Sweden and Finland in that respect? Historically speaking, of course. If that is mistaken, I will gladly accept a link to accurate information, and will delete the one I have now.

I'm pretty sure I was making the statement that they ARE decent at team sports. Or did that little part have nothing to do with my post? In any event, Norway is definitely good enough at soccer to be ranked top 32 (of 202 teams with international points on the ranking scale) in consecutive years by FIFA, which is just behind Denmark, and well ahead of Sweden and Finland, which was my main point (since there's a lot of comparing of team sports within Scandinavia here). The USA is 14th, Canada is 50-something.

22. All indoor.
First off, I know you were arguing that Norway is good at team sports, and I tried to agree with that. I just put it wrongly, so it looked like I was making an argument against you - apologies on my part.

Sweden was the powerhouse in mens handball for many years. At one point in the 1990es they were practically unbeatable, although they never actually won the Olympics, I think. For the past 10 years, they haven't been quite as good, and they are not really competing for medals anymore. Denmark, on the other hand, has several recent international medals including an European Championship gold from 2008 (they came in 5th in the 2010 tournament last month, and this was considered a mild dissappointment). Norway is a second-tier nation, but they are probably closer to being elite than Sweden these years (in the EC, Norway was 7th and Sweden 15th, respectively. The last Nordic country Iceland was 3rd btw.).

In women's handball (which is a big sport around these parts - but pretty much only around these parts), Norway is possibly the most consistent country during the past 20 years. Denmark has 3 Olympic golds, and a bunch of other titles, during the same timeframe. Sweden rarely makes it to the later stages of the tournament.

Finland has little handball history (that I know of), but the sport is pretty big within Swedish-speaking parts of the country (a minority of 7-9% of the population). However, it is completely ignored by the rest. [Think: The exact same Finnish national team tidbit might make the frontpage of Swedish-languaged media, without getting a column of ink in Finnish.] FWIW one of the best female players in the world is Finnish, but represents Norway in international competition - an obvious choice as it is pretty much between a guaranteed medal and not qualifying for tournaments at all.

As for football/soccer, no Scandinavian countries can really be considered powerhouses, or IMO 'very good'. This does not mean that they are bad, merely that the international competition (as measured by number of countries) is far greater than in hockey. I am btw surprised to learn that Norway ranks better than Sweden btw, as I would not consider better by any means. Rather the contrary, actually, as Sweden has been the better Scandinavian country for the past decade (hopefully that has changed! ). Anyway, I think all three Scandinavian countries, like the US and for that matter Japan (?), are maybe third-tier countries - good enough to show up in international competition, and to put up a fight when there, but neither favorites nor serious contenders for medalling.

I am honestly a bit puzzled by the 22 hockey rinks in Denmark. Trying to add them up in my head, but so far no success. Thanks for the link though!

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