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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sports briefs: Hockey, skating, sailing, soccer…

A top Norwegian hockey player confirmed an NHL contract this week, a former speed skating star has harshly criticized Norway’s skating federation, King Harald is ready for the sailing season and Norwegian soccer stars think Spain will win the World Cup.

Ice Hockey - Day 9 - Norway v Switzerland

It was a good week for hockey star Mats Zuccarello Aasen, (#48 in the PicApp photo at right, from this spring’s World Championships in Germany). Aasen could finally confirm that he’d signed a contract with the New York Rangers. He was thrilled, and not just over the money. “This is a dream that’s come true,” Aasen told reporters. The Modo player has signed a two-year deal and looked forward to playing in Madison Square Garden.

Even though summertime is setting in, ice continued to play a role in sports news this week. Former speed skating star Johann Olav Koss delivered a stinging attack on the Norwegian skating federation (Skøyteforbundet), after having stepped in as a reserve coach last season after Peter Mueller was fired for making sexist remarks. Koss claims Norway’s top skating officials have no idea what it takes to win, and hasn’t followed through on eliminating what he called a “bad culture” within the sport. He also claims sports chief Jarle Aambo is reluctant to deal with conflicts. Beleaguered skating officials declined to comment, saying they’d handle things internally. Koss, a multiple Olympic gold medal winner, is back in Toronto, where he lives and runs the humanitarian organization “Right to Play.”

King Harald, a former Olympic athlete himself, was ready to make this year’s sailing debut at the Larvik Regatta, with his latest boat Fram XVI. He won’t be the skipper anymore, but will still be in charge as tactician, deciding “how we shall sail in relation to our competitors,” crew member Kjell Arne Myrann told newspaper Aftenposten. He’s been part of the king’s crew since 1986, when Harald was still Norway’s crown prince. His boat already has won two regattas this year without the monarch being on board: The Helly Hansen Skagen Race from Åsgårdstrand in Norway to Skagen in Denmark, and the Big Boat Challenge at Fyn in Denmark. After Larvik comes Norway’s biggest regatta of the year, the annual Færder Regatta on the Oslo fjord, which often attracts around 1,000 boats in various classes. King Harald also plans to sail at Sandhamn, in the Gotland Race and then head to Mallorca and Copa del Rei.

Football - Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers Barclays Premier League

Finally, soccer star John Carew (PicApp photo, on the left) was a target of speculation this week over his future with Aston Villa. There were reports in Great Britain that a move was in the works, but Carew told Norwegian reporters there was nothing to them. Meanwhile, he and fellow members of the national soccer squad were training for this weekend’s match against Montenegro. Norway was knocked out of the run-up to the World Cup in South Africa in June, which a majority of Norwegian players think Spain will win. Newspaper Aftenposten conducted an informal poll among them, and they also concluded that England will be an outsider, that the Ivory Coast will make some positive surprises and France would not do well.

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