Thursday, May 17, 2012
Norwegian Constitution Day, commonly known as Syttende Mai, which translates to "17th of May", is a celebration of the 1814 signing of Norway's constitution in the town of Eidsvoil, declaring Norway as an independent nation.
While it was celebrated to a certain degree in it's early days, Norway was actually still a part of the Kingdom of Sweden and the celebrations were not encouraged and were actually forbidden for a time in the 1820's. A protest incident in 1829 led to the celebration being tolerated.
Today's video section is highlights of Norway's shootout win over Sweden at the 2011 IIHF World Championships, their first ever win against Sweden in 61 years of trying.
It would take until 1864 for Syttende Mai to become more established, which included a children's parade, which is now a vital part of modern celebrations, with the largest being in Oslo, where 100,000 people turn out to take part in the festivities, which see approximately 100 schools and marching bands pass by the Royal Palace where the Royal Family observes from their balcony as the children march by and sing when they are not blowing whistles and rattling noise makers.
Additionally, the children are frequently wearing traditional costumes or ribbons in the colors of the flag, as well as carrying Norwegian flags.
There are also varying traditions of the public joining in behind the children's parade or a separate public parade either before or after the children's parade. Following the parades, there are games for the children as well as hot dogs, ice cream, pop and candy.
Norway has been a member of the IIHF since 1935 and currently participates at the top level of the World Championships, and have done so since being promoted by winning Division 1 in 1995 with their best finish being a 4th place in 1951, which included defeats of Great Britain and the United States.
They participated in their first Olympics in 1952, but not again until 1964. Since then, have have participated in seven more Olympics, including five in a row from 1980 to 1994. They did not qualify from 1998 to 2006, but once again returned in 2010, the highlight of which was taking Switzerland to overtime before coming up short.
After their 4th place finish in the 1951 World Championships, they sank to the B Pool for one season in 1956. They would bounce back and forth between the Top Division and the B Pool until 1965 when they dropped down to the B Pool for the next 20 years, with the occasional, brief drop down to the C Pool.
They would win the C Pool in 1986 and the B Pool in 1989 to return to the Top Division for the first time since 1965. They would spend 10 of the next 12 years in the Top Division prior to slipping back to Division I (formerly the B Pool) from 2002 to 2005, when they won Division I Group A to earn a return to the Top Division for 2006, where they have remained since.
Norway celebrates their win over Denmark in 2006
2011 would see Norway defeat Sweden for the first time ever and shut out Austria to advance to the Qualifying Round, where they would defeat both Switzerland and France to advance again, this time to the Playoff Round. Despite their defeat by eventual champions Finland, they were credited with a 6th place finish, their highest ranking since 1962.
This year, Norway was placed in Group S in Stockholm, where in seven games in the Preliminary Round, Norway lost their first three games, including taking the Czech Republic to a shootout, before reeling off wins by defeating Italy 6-2, shutting out Latvia 3-0, destroying Germany12-4 and downing Denmark 6-2 to gain an automatic berth in the 2014 Olympics and advance to the Quarterfinals against Russia in a game played today, where they hope to provide all of Norway with a memorable Syttende Mai. Currently Patrick Thoresen, who once played for the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers, leads all tournament scorers with 16 points heading into today's game.
Perhaps the most familiar name to North American fans is Espen Knutsen, a veteran of 5 NHL seasons and the only Norwegian to have played in the NHL All-Star Game.
2002 NHL All-Star Espen Knutsen
Currently there is only one Norwegian in the NHL, left winger Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers.
Today's featured jersey is a 1999 Norway National Team Per-Åge Skrøder jersey. Skrøder began his professional hockey career in Norway in 1994 with Sparta Sarpsborg and Lillehammer before moving to the Swedish Elitserien in 1998. He has played for , , HV 71, where he won a championship in 2004 and
Skrøder has competed for Norway in the European Junior Championships in 1995, the World Junior Championships in 1997, the World Championships at both the Top Division and Division I 11 times and the Olympics in 2010.
During this year's World Championships, Skrøder is second in scoring for Norway with 11 points from 4 goals and 7 assists for 5th overall to date.
As for the following video featuring the 1989 Norway National Team, you just can't make this stuff up.