Danish handball heroes!
Apparently the Danes love their handball, and I arrived in Europe just at the right time to witness the craziness that is the World Handball Championship. Although soccer (I’m starting to call it futball – with extra emphasis on the “u” part) is the official sport of Denmark, all of the attention is on handball now. For starters, the Danes are actually really good at the sport. They’ve won gold at the last two Euro Championships, and usually are a top contender at the Olympics as well.
This past weekend they had two huge games: the semifinals against Croatia on Friday, and the finals against Spain tonight. Sitting in the common room with a mix of Danish and American friends, I watched with agony as they got trounced 19-35. Not fair! I pouted on the couch as Mads, my residence hall supervisor, stared at the TV screen in disbelief.
Still, it was cool to be part of something so uniquely Danish. Who would have thought that there is such as thing as a professional handball league? That a whole country can unite around a sport that’s so peculiar? I played the sport a few times in high school gym class, but we were mostly just fooling around and I never thought it could be taken so seriously. It looks something like a basketball-soccer-lacrosse mix, and it’s really exciting to watch – especially considering the circumstances! Take a look at some clips from the semifinal match vs. Croatia:
These guys are incredible! They fly around the court, dogging defenders, leaping in the air, spinning the ball through defenders legs and past the goalie. Go to minute 02:20 to see my favorite shot of the night. How in the world did he do that?
Last time the Danes won the championship, the team climbed up to the balcony of the City Hall, as thousands of fans piled into the streets to welcome them home. Rumor has it that they also got treated to a traditional pancake breakfast. Although it didn’t happen this year, they’ve inspired me enough to try out the sport for myself – time to find a gym and become a Danish handball whiz! Maybe that’s a bit too ambitious, but still – I’m getting my game face on.