Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic Hockey. And Glee Club.

I’ve been watching a lot of the Olympics. Sweden has been doing a hell of a job on those cross country skis. Unfortunately, it’s not really a sport I can watch. I didn’t even know there were so many different ways to cross country ski. Relays. Distances. Sprints. With guns. It never seems to end. But I’ve been a dutiful sports fan and very seldom is the TV on now without the Olympics being the viewing of choice.

As a general rule, I find Swedish announcers to be painfully awkward, almost entertainingly so. It’s almost like they are embarrassed to be on TV and it shows. It’s a shame because it often times takes away from the knowledge they do have about their respective sports.

The Olympics have been different though. Not because the commentary has been world class and insightful. Not because the commentators are the stereotypical good looking Swede. Not because they haven’t been awkward. But simply because they have been drunk. Ok, maybe not drunk, but something has been going on in the booth.

Especially in the hockey games. I know that a lot of these games are being shown in Sweden late at night/early in the morning. Maybe the commentators think no one is watching. But people are watching. Like me. And listening. Like me. And passing those comments on to the old man as a way to spread the glory that is Swedish Olympic hockey announcers.

Early in the tournament, I was watching the US beat Switzerland in the opener. It wasn’t a horribly impressive showing by the Americans, but the Swiss are sneaky good at hockey. But, it wasn’t the game itself that I remembered. It was here that the comments started. Between periods, we always head up to get a breakdown of what’s happened. A blonde, somewhat dominant looking woman sits at a table with what one can only suspect is the resident hockey expert. A man who could not for the life of him say the word “amerikanerna.” The Americans. In a stunning act of un-Swedishness, the dominant blonde woman made fun of him. Mercilessly. So much so that eventually, in a fit of awkwardness, the man said “amerik… jänkarna” and continued on. It was from that point that Americans became Yankees.

The fun continued. Suddenly the man made a claim that I was horribly impressed by. He knew the Russian national anthem. And thus, he began to sing. Mitt namn är Nikolajev/Kosmonaut från Sovjet. My name is Nicolai/cosmonaut from the Soviet. Now I do not speak Russian, but I feel fairly confident that wasn’t Russian.

One day later I watched Belarus play Finland. Since Sweden’s 2002 loss to Belarus I have had a soft spot for anyone playing Belarus. But again, it was not the game itself that intrigued me. Instead, I was once again treated to a vocal performance that would make your local Idol panel proud. Because suddenly, all of Sweden was being serenaded by the classic Abba song, Waterloo. Waterloo - I was defeated, you won the war/Waterloo - Promise to love you forever more. Amazing.

You would think that would be the end of it. But one night later, for reasons I still do not understand, the play by play guys began their attempt at speaking Polish. Literally. They were trying to say things in Polish. Poland is not represented in the ice hockey tournament.

The Olympics is by far the greatest hockey tournament in the world. It’s an incredible mix of athleticism, patriotism, plus a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of doing things you’ve never dreamed of. A part of me though watches every single hockey game hoping to hear an announcer break into song.

Welcome to Sweden. And Olympic hockey.

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22 comments:

  1. The male commentator, was he blond?
    If he was, it was probably Niklas wikegård.
    I personally think he's pretty good.
    You should've seen the olympic final in torino when finalnd almost scored in the last seconds. He was totally hysterical haha :D

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  2. Oh I think he is glorious. Hilarious to listen to because of the chance for a song, but he is definitely good.

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  3. I only WISH I can watch and understand it.

    I'm SOOO going to try to watch the canada russia game! :D

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  4. I should know by now to never read your blog while at work. I'm absolutely cackling over here.

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  5. The Canada VS Russia game was off the hook!
    You can imagine the energy here in the streets and every pub, it was just awesome. Hope you got to see it.

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  6. And Sweden just got eliminated from the tournament... I'm feeling genuinly depressed. How the hell can they loose against Slovakia, and by the same ammount as Norway lost?!

    FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUU-!

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  7. @juni

    Russia was absolutely RAPED!!! hahaahh the game was insane!
    I couldn't be prouder of Canada!

    I wish I was there celebrating with my friends and city! :D

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  8. :-( Sverige är borta... och Wikegård har tydligen blivit anmäld till DO för något han sagt på TV också... allt kul försvinner...

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  9. ^ sorry sad face person :( but i cant help being happy Sweden is out because of us.

    poor wikegård dude tho. :( thats one thing i feel for you for. he should've been more careful, esp in his position :(

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  10. Oh sweet lord - please tell me you've been watching the commentator warm-ups on svt.se/os between 6 and 6:15 every night?! They are HILARIOUS!!! I don't want the Olympic games to end - ever! I'll miss them sooooo much!

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  11. Sorry to see the Swedes knocked out, but lots to be optimistic for in 2014 with Backstrom / Sedins / Lundqvist returning. Glad Forsberg registered at least one point and had some good physical plays last night.

    I just hope one of the remaining teams can beat the absolutely classless Canadian team, with Getzlaf chirping from the bench during a blowout game and even worse, Boyle's intent-to-injure slewfoot. These guys should be embarrassed to act this way while wearing the colors of their country.

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  12. Oh man, maybe I should have watched more of the olympics... I totally agree that the Swedish commentators usually tend to be painfully awkward. Singing, huh... I'm off to Youtube ;)

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  13. @ Anonymous: Classless Canadians eh? Nice...
    @ Hairy: Gosh, I wish I could understand more. I would absolutely LOVE to hear these commentators. Canadian commentators are pretty much play-by-play focused with little animation.

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  14. Happy birthday hairy swede!

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  15. @swedishJen: I didnt know that accidents made us un-classy... interesting that people think that of us eh??

    @ mama. it's hairy's birthday?? well then, i hope its filled with glorious goodness :P

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  16. HAIRY! (and any other stockholm sports fans...)

    I want to go and watch the game in Stockholm tomorrow (the gold medal hockey game of course...although i'm sure you knew what i was talking about)

    Any ideas of good places to watch? I am also assuming that they will be showing the game, even though the poor swedes are out this year...

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  17. Damn, it appears I've been missing out by completely and utterly ignoring the olympic games.

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  18. @Lost – give it time

    @Stacy – just make sure to read it during your fika break.

    @juni – Olympic hockey is incredible.

    @Simon – Slovakia was sneaky good. Although, Sweden was sneaky bad. There’s always next year. And by next year I mean four years from now. Damn it.

    @Lost – the Russian bear seemed to be hibernating. Ok bad joke, but come on, it was too easy.

    @:( - I read that report about Wikegård, and to be honest, it sounds like some angry parent trying to stick up for her kid. Pretty ridiculous because who are we kidding, womens Olympic hockey is a joke. Its Canada and the US and that is it.

    @Lost – made your life a little bit easier.

    @terander – DAMN IT! I missed all but one of these actually. I don’t know how they escaped me.

    @anonymous – Forsberg did play well in that last game. I have a huge man crush on him, but he is old and tired.

    @anonymous – agreed.

    @Maya – they sang again last night. I’m just amazed.

    @SwedishJenn – these guys need to be shared with the world.

    @mamma – thanks, but wow you are bad at the anonymity thing.

    @Lost – it was a weekend mostly filled with glorious candy and alcohol.

    @swedishyogi – hope you found a place to watch it. I stayed home and kept my neighbors up with my screaming.

    @That one girl – you most definitely did.

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  19. Personally I can't really get riled up about Hockey since 2006 when we won the World Cup and the Olympic Games. I mean, once you reach the top, what else is there?

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  20. I'm pretty sure they're still online. Hi-larious!!! Oh, and please tell me you were watching the USA-FIN game?! Did you hear Wikegård's comment when the Finns were down 6-0? "At a point like this, the coach has to do something, whatever he has to to change the game, even if it means getting naked in the booth, he has to do it" - HAHAHAHA!!! I thought of this post when I heard it ;)

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  21. @J.B. - winning again?

    @terander - oh I definitely heard that comment. He was hilarious during that first period after the US scored five goals in about five minutes. Just depressed and angry.

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