The World Men’s Curling Championship was settled last weekend and against the odds it was the Swedes who came out on top over long term rivals Norway, and they loved it
Sportsman like conduct, as well as being inherently sexist in terminology, is one of the more bizarre aspects of the human condition. We are to compete to the best of our ability, to desire the win, to want to beat our opponents and be victorious, and yet we must lose with grace, be respectful of those we have been in competition with and generally regard “taking part” to be the greatest part of any particular contest. This is particularly noticeable in post-match/race interviews.
Breathless competitors who’ve won will always say what a hard race/game it was, usually citing the competition by name as having pushed them all the way, and those who have been unfortunate always congratulate the winner and are stoic about their defeat. They have always had a great experience, always enjoyed every minute of it, and always hope to come back next year/month/week to try again or defend their title. The cliches are all but laughable for their faux sentiment of hollow public-relations.
Some of the younger ones actually mean it, their annoying enthusiasm just a bit too perky, a little too sickeningly sweet, but you can’t help feeling that some of the more well-established names say it all with a little dismissal in their voice. Their tone implying they’re saying what their team boss, national selectors or personal trainer would wish them to say because they’re expected to say it, their actual desire to say any of it being, as those who like to bet on sport in Sweden will tell you, as near to nothing as makes no odds at all.
Of course with sponsorship such a major part of every sport there are very few sportsmen or sportswomen that have the freedom to speak their minds, sponsors dislike anything that might taint their image and unguarded comments from their public face can leave them with a public relations disaster on their hands. This means that regardless of the actual feeling of the competitor, be they Swedish or no, at the time, there are somethings you won’t hear them talk about. One of them is revenge.
The Revenge Of The Muppet Chef
Revenge isn’t very sportsmanlike. It brings to mind dark nights, lonely roads, sudden ambush and the swish of blood soaked swords, bodies lying slain in the cloud broken moonlight, gaunt faces lifeless and staring into infinity. Regardless of the situation between rivals neither one will ever admit that it is precisely this desire that is driving them on to repeatedly compete, for instance, against a team or competitor that has repeatedly beaten them. Sportsmen don’t say it however much they might feel it.
Swedes Beat Norway
• Curling team win world title
• Norway concede in final
• Edin: “This feels amazing.”
Sports journalists, of course, use it all the time. Gambling news reports of some sports couldn’t garner any interest at all without such an emotive term being bandied about in their articles, they litter their descriptions with terms those actually competing would back peddle away from with as much speed as their mental agility could muster. Hate is the same. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton don’t hate each other, they’ll both tell you, they’re just very fierce rivals……….and if you believe that I’ve a bridge you can buy.
Sometimes the rivalry is so clear, stark and manifest that it’s very hard to hide the over riding sense of victory of one over the other, and whilst the F1 example is great on a personal level, and at a team level you can pretty much choose any football derby, when it comes to international sport there are few countries that have quite the same level of rivalry. That said, however, some nations that live on each others borders have developed quite the little sporting contest of one-up-man-ship, Sweden and Norway being prime examples.
If you want to know what the Swedes feel about Norwegians just understand this very easily grasped concept; When shown in Sweden the irrepressible force of culture that is “The Muppet Show” doesn’t have have an incomprehensible and insane Swedish Chef, but an incomprehensible and insane Norwegian Chef. They could have picked from any number of nations, from any corner of the globe, but they just so happened to choose the very one to whom they reside next door. Classic.
Swedes Find Happiness In Halifax
Now earlier this year, at the Nordic World Skiing Championships in Sweden, Norway kind of ran away with the entire event winning nearly 50% of everything, and the joyous cries of the massive Norwegian contingent in the crowd grated somewhat on Swedish ears. Despite their ingrained politeness and sporting PR training preventing them mentioning it, there were a fair few that thought Norway ripe to be taken down a peg or two, and so they were last weekend, not on the snow, but on the ice.
Swedes Niklas Edin, Oskar Eriksson, Kristian Lindstrom, Christoffer Sundgen, Henrik Leek and their Coach Fredrik Lindberg took on the Norwegian world champions and beat them, resoundingly, in the finals of the World Men’s Curling Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia, so much so that in the end the match was conceded not completed, the Norwegians, led by veteran Thomas Ulsrud, failing to be within contention towards the end despite having last stone advantage.
“The second half of that game was pure enjoyment out there.” Admitted team skipper Edin afterward. “This is our first year together, we focused a lot after a bad start to get back in this event and we played so well in the play-offs.” He went on to say that the victory “feels amazing” and that, of course, he was “so proud of my team.” But then he would, wouldn’t he? Pointing, laughing and making rude gestures at the defeated Norwegians would be unsportsmanlike, however apt the term “revenge” might be.
Swedish gambling laws remain a bit restrictive, despite the best efforts of sites like ComeOn! Sportsbook and most gambling companies in Gibraltar that offer a full range of opportunities for Swedes to gamble on their nation’s representatives in sports ranging from the snowy pursuits born out of their local landscape to the tracks and fields of competition around the world. The Norwegians will be smarting from this defeat and it remains to seen what Thomas Ulsrud will do to get his revenge.