Sure, winter-sports-mad Norwegians are proud of the Olympic successes of their country's athletes, but they seem to be getting at least as big a kick out of the failures of athletes from neighboring Sweden—who through Sunday had won no medals. After Thomas Alsgaard won the 30K cross-country race on Feb. 14, for Norway's second gold and fifth medal overall, the headline in the Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet read: NORWAY LEADS; SWEDES TIED WITH FIJI.
The Scandinavian rivalry has deep and bitter roots; this time it's a case of little brother Norway—its population is half the size of Sweden's—getting in a dig at big brother Sweden. From 1814 to 1905 the two nations were united. The Norwegians seceded because they felt Sweden had become too dominant. "Now," says Niclas Andersson, a reporter with the Swedish newspaper Expressen, "people are saying we never should have let them go."
On Monday, Pernilla Wiberg finally broke the Swedish drought with her gold medal performance in the women's Alpine combined. And the Swedish hockey team was, as of Monday, still alive, having advanced to the medal round. Still, with the Norwegian medal count standing at 15, including eight golds, the Swedes may have to content themselves with having at least outdone the Fijians: The Fiji team—cross-country skier Rusiate Rogoyawa—is done for the Games.
The Name Game
And now for this week's rock-and-roll sports news.
A Canadian rock group called DropKick Me Jesus has been fighting the Canadian government over its name, which is taken from a 1976 country music song by Bobby Bare that includes the lyrics: "Drop kick me. Jesus, through the goalposts life/End over end, neither left nor right Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights." Canadian musical groups must register their names with the government's Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to establish themselves as "legitimate businesses." and the government at first refused to grant the DropKickers a license to perform. Said a spokesman: "The name is not acceptable for registration because it invokes violence in a religious context and is considered scandalous and contrary to public policy." Whew! Quite a mouthful about the ol' drop kick, which hasn't been used much in the last half century. Anyway, the government later relented and allowed the DropKickers to suit up.
Meanwhile, back in the States, where a group can call itself anything. Dock Ellis is a popular draw on the Cincinnati club scene. The group chose its name in honor of the former big league pitcher who has admitted that he was sometimes high on drugs on the mound during the 1960s and '70s. Explained lead singer Dan Reed: "Dock Ellis had the greatest sporting achievement of the 20th century, as far as I'm concerned. He pitched a no-hitter on acid."
A Troubled Legend
At week's end it still had not been determined whether Diego Maradona, once the world's best soccer player and now the sport's best one-man soap opera, would play for Argentina in the World Cup this summer. Maradona, 33, says he is fit and ready to go, but his actions over the past few weeks suggest a man in need of help rather than one who should be exposed to the World Cup pressure cooker.