Swedish ‘Ski shooting’ – the king of the hybrids

In the Swedish town of Östersund, the World Championships in biathlon is currently taking place. For the uninitiated of you, the biathlon is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. In Swedish, it is called ‘skidskytte’ – literally ‘ski shooting’. The sport is a race where the contestant with the shortest total time wins. Depending on the competition, missed shots result in extra distance or time being added to the contestant’s total.

The biathlon is an example of a hybrid sport – one which combines two or more sports in order to create a new sport. Waterpolo, which combines swimming and handball, is another example. Biathlon is the king of the hybrids as it is the only one to be recognised as an Olympic sport.

As usual, I got curious about what other hybrid sports exist. So I did some research. Here are some of the, according to me, funniest ones:

Bossaball – combines the many elements of volleyball, football, gymnastics and the Brazilian martial art Capoeira. Strangely, it is played on an inflatable field with 2 trampolines at each side of the net. These allow players per side to bounce high to spike or touch the ball.

Chess boxing – weirdly combines the sport of boxing with games of chess in alternating rounds. Chess boxing fights have been organized since early 2003.

Darchery – combines darts and archery, using crossbows and arrows typically used for archery, but the target is a dart board.

Footgolf – combines football with golf. Players kick a football into large holes placed around a golf course.

Headis – combines table tennis and football. Players use their heads to hit a football across the table tennis table and net. Sounds exhausting.

Kronum – combines handball, football, basketball and rugby played on a circular field with four goals at each end.

Octopush – combines swimming, diving and hockey. Players try to push around a hockey puck at the bottom of a swimming pool. The goal is to shoot the puck with a small, curved piece of wood into the opposing team’s goal.     

Do you play any of these sports? Or do you play another hybrid sport? Let me know!

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Swedish winter break – take those kids away!

Around this time of the year, schools In Sweden have a week’s holiday. Called ‘Sportlov‘, it’s a traditional time for a winter sport break. 

This tradition was introduced in the early years of WW2 as a way to save energy. Heating up schools cost money and, due to rationing, councils were instructed to drastically reduce their heating expenses. So shutting the schools seemed like a good idea.

To give the pupils something meaningful to do while the school was shut, the authorities organised various activities, many focused on being outdoors and exercising.

Serendipitously, experts realised, during the 1950’s, that infection spread less widely at this time of the year if schools were closed for a week. So the winter sport break became cemented as an official disease control method. 

Nowadays, many families head off to the mountains to go skiing, some head off to the Alps for the same purpose. Others may fly away to the sunny beaches of the world.

For those of us left in town, it’s sheer bliss. 

The gym is empty. The streets are spacious. There is hardly anybody on the buses and tube, traffic is significantly thinner and less noisy and it’s easy to get a seat at lunch time. 

And the fact that there are hardly any children in town means something great for the rest of us.

We don’t get infected with diabolical kid bacteria that would knock us out until mid March.

My Sweden-England dilemma

So, yesterday Sweden and England both qualified for the quarter finals in the football World Cup. Now they will meet each other and only one of them can go on to the semis. I’m not much of a football fan, but I do feel that I’m caught in a dilemma. Who do I support – the birth country that raised me or my adopted home country? I am a citizen of both, so that’s not an argument to fall back on.

5 reasons why I should support Sweden:

  • There’s an election this year, and a lot of people are feeling negative, so a win for Sweden is a positive boost for the whole country
  • Zlatan’s not playing so this shows the arrogant SOB that the team is good without him
  • Sweden hasn’t got to the quarters since 1994, if I am correctly informed. So it’s about time. Also, they’ve never won the whole shebang
  • Sweden has semlor cream buns, Jansson’s temptation, mmmmarabou, fried Baltic herring, princesstårta, västerbotten cheese pie and Småland cheesecake
  • It’s good to show the world Sweden’s good at something else other than winning Eurovision

5 reasons why I should support England

  • England invented football. Kind of. Or at least were the first to officially organize it into clubs in the 1800’s.
  • With Brexit approaching, it’s good for England to beat the world
  • England haven’t won the World Cup since 1966, so it’s well overdue
  • England has Branston pickle, trifle, crumpets, fried breakfasts, PG Tips, sticky toffee pudding and cream eggs.
  • England show they’re good at something and not just at making bad choices (Theresa May, Boris Johnson, UKIP etc)

So what a dilemma! Who should I back?

Any thoughts from you would be most helpful. Give me some reasons to support Team Sweden or Team England! You have until Saturday!

Warring neighbours: Sweden and Finland

 

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Many neighbouring countries around the world have had their fair share of conflict. Some countries are currently at war or teetering on the brink.

Thankfully, Sweden and the other Nordic countries have lived in peace with each other for centuries. However, Sweden and Finland still battle it out every year in an athletics competition between the two nations – the best type of neighbourly conflict. In Swedish, this is called ‘Finnkamp’ and in Finland it is called ‘Sverigekampen’. This year it is currently taking place in Stockholm.

The first Finnkamp took place in 1925 for men, and 1951 for women and it has taken olace every year, with a few exceptions for organisational disagreements and WWII. It is highly competitive, although friendly, and is a classic track and field event.

In total there have been78 annual competitions for the men and Finland leads 45-31 over Sweden. For the women, there have been 67 competitions and Sweden holds the lead at 41 to Finland’s 25. Let’s see how it ends up this year!

If you want to see the end of it, make your way down to Stadion in Stockholm today to catch the final events.

  

Amazing immigrants in Sweden: Part 5 Meraf Bahta Ogbagaber 


Negativity. Fear. Concern. These are some of the reactions many Swedes are experiencing about the influx of immigrants to Sweden in the last couple of years. So, I became curious to learn about some of those individuals who came here as refugees or immigrants to make a better life for themselves. People with roots somewhere else who built a home here and who contributed to Swedish society in a positive way.

For the next seven days, I will celebrate these people. My hope is that we can lift our eyes from the challenges of immigration and understand what useful contributions these people can make to society if given the chance. To our society. Our Sweden

 
Part 5: Meraf Bahta Ogbagaber 
Meraf Bahta was born in Dekishahay in Eritrea, a country with heavily criticized human rights. In 2008, at the age of 19, she escaped this one-party military state. In Eritrea, she had been conscripted to do a 5-year long military service, or punishment by imprisonment. Both her parents were imprisoned and her mother had died behind bars. So Meraf fled and found a safe haven in Sweden. In Eritrea, she is considered a deserter and her return there would mean instant death. 

As a middle distance runner, she has participated in many international competitions. Her personal best times are 4:05.11 minutes in the 1500 metres and 14:59.49 minutes in the 5000 metres – which is the Swedish national record. She is also the European champion (2014) in 5000 metres. 

Since 2014 she is a Swedish citizen and eligible to represent Sweden in international events. She did so at the recent Olympics in Rio and World Championships in London. 

Meraf has found security in Sweden and is able to pursue her athletics career without threat or military interference. Watching her on the track, it’s easy to see that she wears her yellow and blue colours with pride. 

Great Swedish Women Part 4 – The Fighter

Since March 8th was International Women’s Day, I  am writing series on Great Swedish Women, past and present: women with strength and passion, women with a voice, women who create change. For seven days, I am writing about these women, one per day. I hope you want to join me in celebrating them.

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Part 4 – handball player and social media warrior Linnéa Claesson.

When Linnéa Claesson was 12 years old, she was on-line chatting with a guy who she though was the same age as her. When she turned on her camera, she was greeted by an older man masturbating to her.

It is impossible to imagine what must have run through 12 year old Linnéa’s mind and it’s horrendous to think that she had to experience it. For Linnéa, it was the start of years of ongoing net abuse and social media hate. And one day she decided to not take it any more. She decided to fight back.

Linnéa Claesson is one of Sweden’s most accomplished handball players on elite level and has won, for example, gold in the handball World Championships. After matches, she typically gets unsolicited messages from men on social media which include sexual propositions, pornographic comments about her body, physical threats and penis photographs. Linnéa decided to retaliate, and set up an Instagram account called ‘assholesonline’ where she takes a screenshot of the comments and how she has answered them, often using humour as her weapon. Here’s an example:

‘My fantasy: Me, you and another girl licking you until you scream. Maybe a bubble bath. What’s your fantasy?

Linnéa’s answer?

‘My fantasy: Me, you and another girl kicking you until you scream. Maybe a blood bath.’

In responding to the comments, Linnéa wants to take back the conversation and show those harrassing her, and other women, that she is not ashamed and that she is in control. The reaction she receives from the men is often angry and aggressive and not infrequently leads to threats on her life. In a recent interview, she said,

‘I have to do this, even if I’m scared. I have to be brave. Generations after me shouldn’t have to face the same thing.

Linnéa Claesson is not only a fighter on the playing field, she is a fighter in many other aspects. She fights against the sexual harrassment of women and in doing so she is trying to create a debate around this problem. The ultimate goal – to change society’s attitude and view of women and create a positive change. In her own words,

‘We should stand up for each other and when we see something wrong we should challenge it. I think that this is important.’

Here is Linnéa’s Instagram account  assholesonline.

Ski crazy Swedes


Tonight the skiing World Cup came to Sweden where, in Stockholm, elite skiers competed in parallel slalom. It was fun to be there, on the packed stands and see all the Swedish flags waving as Swedish skiers Hargin and Hansdotter competed. The competition took place on Hammarbybacken, which is a ski slope in the city. 
Hammarbybacken is a man-made ski resort built from rubble and refuse, towering in the southern part of Stockholm city. Building commenced in the 1950’s and finished in 1990. At 93.5 meters high, it’s a popular weekend destination for outdoorsy Stockholmers. And tonight, there were around 8000 of them there, cheering and shouting into the cold January night. 

The Swedish skiers didn’t win. But the spectators left the event having witnessed a fantastic winter sport event in their very own capital city.