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A Morning Jolt of Icelandic Team Handball

The Icelandic poster industry will be busy with all these shots. (By Mikhail Voskresensky - Reuters)

"Have none of you been to Iceland? Oh well you've seriously got to come, you don't know what you're missing. First of all it's not cold. Second, or rather reverse order, the girls are the prettiest in the world." -- Iceland's first lady, Dorrit Moussaieff.

If there's a better definition of globalization than sitting in an Indian restaurant in a Beijing shopping mall, drinking Watson's Ginger Ale, listening to "Hotel California" on the restaurant's sound system and blogging about the Icelandic men's handball team while a Chinese woman walks by wearing an "I Heart Frat Boys" t-shirt, I want to see it.

The media flurry has begun in advance of Iceland's men's handball final against France Sunday at 3:30 a.m. EST. The godfather of American media coverage of Icelandic handball, Stefan Fatsis, discusses the team on NPR. John Branch from the New York Times has a comprehensive look at what it all means. Beau Dure from USA Today focuses more on the absurdity of it all, and gets this quote from Gudjon Sigurdsson: "If the Americans would think about Icelandic handball team when they would be talking about Iceland, I think it is just as likely that I would be walking on Mars in two days." Not a bad day for Icelandic handball when they hit the NYT, Wash Post, USA Today and NPR.

Because I continue to be an idiot, I skipped Iceland's final training session today in favor of a ludicrous farce of an Usain Bolt press conference. Reports out of the training session indicate a media contingent of at least two, including a columnist from a major American metro. Baby steps.

See also: The Sporting Blog, an international roundup from Ice News, and a straight gamer from AFP.

Some of you criticized me for asking a supposedly sappy question to the Icelanders after yesterday's win. For the record, I took a bit of creative license in describing my question to play up the response, which involved the words "ape [bleep]" and was thoroughly unsappy. My actual verbatim question was something like "what do you think it's like in Iceland right now."

Two final bonus quotes:

Existentialist Iceland captain Olafur Stefansson: You know, in the end it's about self-development, being not the same person as you were before the tournament. That's what it's about....The important thing is to have given happiness and joy to three hundred thousand people who speak the same language that I speak."

Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson: It's very difficult to present a too positive picture of Iceland, because in many ways it's a dream country. It was for centuries one of the poorest countries in Europe. A nation which was under foreign rule. And we succeeded to gain our independence and establish the republic in the middle of the last century, and we have now reached one of the highest standards of living in the world. Our energy is 100 percent clean. Everybody can read and write.

And it's a country without fear, without terror. Our open, free, democratic society. So when my friends from the United States come to Iceland, they don't really believe that such a country exists. And what happened here tonight will be yet another unbelievable aspect of the dream country that Iceland really is."

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 23, 2008; 6:59 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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Next: Iceland Handball's Final Opponent


Who is starting in goal, Gudmundsson or Gudmundsson?

Posted by: Bill Fitzgerald | August 23, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

...And USATH is happy.

Posted by: B.A. | August 23, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Who is starting in goal?
My first guess is Gustafsson.
My second guess is Gudmundsson.
The other Gudmundsson is the Head Coach.

Posted by: Gunnar B | August 23, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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