Norway’s wildly popular women’s national handball team lost their title as World Champions on Sunday, after losing by two points to France. The loss put a damper on holiday spirits, but their consolation prize was the silver medal after this year’s World Championships in Germany.
Norway had rolled over earlier competitors, not least the Russians, but France put a halt to the Norwegian women’s winning streak. It was a close match, but many Norwegian fans agreed that the French were simply better, and deserved their 23-21 victory over Norway.
The match, broadcast live nationwide on TV2 from Hamburg, ran in the background during pre-Christmas parties in countless Norwegian homes, and put a dampler on some celebrations. Several of Norway’s top players, meanwhile, were reduced to tears and handball star Nora Mørk was reportedly down in the dumps on Monday as well. Championship action usually runs just before Christmas, and Norwegians are accustomed to rousing welcomes home for their handball heroines.
Instead fans and players alike had to admit to mistakes made during the match that played out before more than 11,000 spectators including an estimated 4,500 Norwegians. It was nonetheless a thriller, and many countries would be happy winning silver. The Netherlands won bronze, after beating Sweden 24-21.