Norway’s Sporting Year
• Alpine success in Falun
• Disappointment in Euro 2016
• Stein Eriksen passes away
Norway’s sporting year has been full of both highs and lows so we look back over some of the highlights and look forward to what we can expect from this Nordic nation in 2016.
The early parts of Norway’s sporting year were dominated by news from Falun where the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships proved once again that when it comes to sliding on snow, sliding off snow from great heights and sliding on snow then shooting things, the Norwegians are a tough act to beat winning 20 medals including 11 golds, more than the rest of the competing nations put together, a fact that highlighted a raft of more long term issues.
Whilst Petter Northug and Therese Johaug and the rest of the Norwegian team were giving Norway’s sporting year a great start their dominance was cause of some dismay to those looking at the long term future of the alpine sports. Declining TV coverage outside the region limiting the interest of sponsors in countries that were unlucky enough not to be Norway in the first place, thus exacerbating the problem, and causing further shrinkage outside just a few select nations.
Of course those that like to bet on sports in Norway won’t be disappointed with their nations performance on Alpine skis. Sure, the odds at ComeOn! Sportsbook are rather short when they’re so prolific with their victories, but it’s been easy pickings in many events this year. Perhaps unfortunately this good fortune didn’t extend to sports away from the snowy pine trees of the alpine sports circuit, and on the football pitch Norway’s sporting year was less successful.
Euro 2016 Play-Off Place Squandered
Qualification for the Euro 2016 finals in France next summer was high on the agenda for Norwegian football and had they made it perhaps it would have been the highlight of Norway’s sporting year, however their dream curdled a bit in the early stages and then went sour as they clung on till the very last chance to qualify was extinguished, the optimism crafted around too few victories to guarantee a place at the top table of European football.
In Group H with Italy and Croatia perhaps third was the best they could have hoped for, but beating the later 2-0 in Oslo back in September had given them hope of so much more, but despite putting up a good show for seventy minutes against Italy in Rome, in the end Florenzi and Pelle condemned them to a play-off spot against Hungary who had come third in Group F behind Northern Ireland and Romania. It was the biggest moment perhaps of Norway’s sporting year, and it didn’t go their way.
The play-offs were held in mid-November and were a two-legged affair with Norway getting a home draw in the first match at the Ullevaal Stadion, but if you were Norwegian gambling laws of probability would see you to France, Laszlo Kleinheisler used his first appearance for the national senior team to grab the only goal of the game, hammered in from fifteen yards, and Gabor Kiraly, the hugely experienced Hungarian goalie (earning his 100th cap in this game) killed the Norwegian dream.
Norway’s Sporting Year Tinged With Failure
The second play-off game could have been the high point of Norway’s sporting year but their efforts to redress the balance came far too late in the game in Budapest, and Henriksen’s 87th minute goal wasn’t enough to make up for the own goal he’d already scored or the one Priskin had put by the Norwegians in the first fifteen minutes. Norway failed to qualify, and Hungary went through for the first time in numerous decades. Norway’s disappointment was manifest.
Perhaps thankfully winter has rolled around once more and Norway’s sporting year once again looks up as it’s back to the skin tight outfits and snow sliding, and whilst that does mean we can all earn a tidy sum betting on the dead certs on the alpine sporting calendar at ComeOn! Sportsbook, the problems that it shone a spot light on at the start of the year are back at the end of it, the debate already underway as Norwegian sporting success seemed destined to destroy the sport as a whole.
Of course this week the Norwegian skiing fraternity has had cause for pause as one of the great exponents of the sport passed away the Triple world champion and Olympic gold medalist Stein Eriksen, so instrumental in the development of modern skiing, dying at the age of 88. However don’t go gambling news of his passing will stop Norway dominating up-coming events and, so long as they’re on snow, it’s something you can put money on all the way through Norway’s sporting year ahead.