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02-17-2010, 05:02 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Halifax
Country: Japan
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Originally Posted by Mikkel View Post
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!
Cheers man. As for that last part... wow. I have a hard enough time keeping track of all the ones just in my hometown (Halifax) that I used to play in, let alone the ones that have been built since my minor hockey days. It boggles my mind that you're sitting there doing mental inventory of an entire country's rinks (albeit far from a "hockey hotbed", haha).

edit: and oh yeah, Japan is very close to becoming a "2nd tier" team in soccer. It's generally expected that they'll take the Asian wing of World Cup qualifying nowadays (or is that all my Japanese friends' cumulative brainwashing finally working on me?!) Just about every high school (and university?) has a team, the league is pretty successful/popular and decent calibre, and the available facilities are pretty good too (my team played at Saitama stadium in an all-Japan tournament, which was awesome - came 4th, not bad - and played regularly at the former English team training grounds on Awaji Island). Crappy thing is that most school and public fields are hard-packed sand, if you can believe that. Japanese people are either all allergic to grass or hate taking care of it, I swear.

Last edited by Ohashi_Jouzu: 02-17-2010 at 05:09 AM.
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