Thursday, August 14, 2014

Triple Header in Oslo: Norway / France / Denmark

France 307 - 94 Norway
France 286 - 83 Denmark
Norway 226 - 88 Denmark

OSLO - AUG. 9, 2014

This weekend was a first for Team France: the first time we played abroad! After the Patin Français exhibition games vs. Les Restes de la France, the Superbrawl tournament with Canada and England, and the Don't Mix Up event against the Netherlands, last weekend, the French Team crossed the North Sea to play our 4th public event of the season. DESTINATION OSLO FOR A TRIPLE HEADER WITH NORWAY AND DENMARK...


We had booked the same hostel as Denmark in Sunsenkrysset, on top of a hill with a great view on playing fields, hardly 30 min by foot from the venue.

We all met in a bar downtown for dinner on Friday evening, before the real kick-off of the next day. Burgers and pinballs with grunge music. I'm not much into burgers and we sneaked out together with Chuck to find proper food. Unfortunately, we wandered a bit too far, carried away by our curiosity... Took a wrong turn, wasted even more time, and finally stumbled upon our group heading back to the hostel. #wellwell. It was nice catching up with you, guys.

RANDOM FACT OF THE DAY: Some of us had ordered special LAZZZY suits sporting the French colors and met quite a success thoughout the event... and I wouldn't be surprised if they started a fashion. See for yourself:


The event started at 12:00 with France-Norway, followed by France-Denmark and Norway-Denmark to finish with. At least, THAT was the INITIAL plan. But things didn't turn out quite as expected...
Team France decided to get to the venue, an ice hockey rink, by foot. First trial of the day: an extra detour because of roadworks. We arrived about 10:30 at destination and soon had to face the second trial of the day: WHEEL TESTING!
The ground was a typical concrete surface that can be found underneath the ice of a rink. A little flaky maybe, but normally efficient and responsive. Alas, long story short, the floor A/C of the rink had been accidentally turned on the previous evening, which led to a complete disaster: The concrete was so cold that no tape could stick on it, and it became slippier as minutes went by, due to condensation. After an hour, a thin layer of humidity had settled all around, leaving the whole ground completely wet. Two options were suggested:
  1. We all stop breathing and air the venue so that it is practicable by the evening,
  2. We all move to another venue, yet to be defined.
The majority having voted for option #2, The organization tackled the task and made the miracle happen, in finding a new -better- venue with the most perfect wooden floor, only 1 km away from the first one! The three teams, the ref crew, the organization team and the public, all flocked together to the final place -and made a little detour because of roadworks. Rings a bell?
Once arrived, the organization and officials crew settled things so fast that the event only started with a two-hour delay. The breaks in-between games had to be shortened to gain time, but the whole event unfolded -and ended- at a very decent hour. And we even had a LIVE STREAM despite all the commotion!


FRANCE (307 - 94) NORWAY

After that little digression, let's start over: The event started at 14:00 with the France-Norway game. On both our games, our teamwork experience got the better of the opposing team. We did some good implementations of tactics and strategies we worked on during our last training camp. Still we also had big malfunctions of communication or formation. But nobody's perfect, and it would be presomptious to complain with such a score.
I WAS LOOKING FOR MY NOTES of that game on my notepad, when I realized that -oh wait, I actually PLAYED it! #nevertoolatetorealize: I played my first game since the Superbrawl in February! (Not taking into account being on the Bombshells' roster for the Beach Brawl in May, where I hardly played a couple of jams due to fresh ankle mishap). It was the first game in 6 months in which not only was I rostered, but I played within a full jammer rotation.
Given the situation, I should be satisfied. But of course, I'm not: A little too much hesitation on direction changes cost me unacceptable clusterfuck moments, casting a shadow on my overall performance. Yet I had one personal success in particular: I implemented some real, pondered and timed jammer-blocker offenses, which led to some glorious moments. I've been (intermittently) working on that the whole season. But training is a different story than bouting, where you irrevocably tend to stick to what you know... #yaytome.
Our goal for that first game was to win with a 150-point lead. Seemed ambitious, but worth trying. And it paid off. We even reached our redefined second period objective: scoring more while making Norway score less than at the first period. Apart from some tactical failures, the main black spot of the game was the heavy penalties: 34 for each team. Although it was less than against the Netherlands at the Don't Mix Up event, it's still a hefty check.


It was the second game in a row for Team France and tiredness crashed the party, especially on the second period with a swelling number of careless mistakes and a growing erosion of pack solidarity, sometimes offering free points to the opposing jammers. Although I don't know if the two facts are linked, the disruption coincided with the stepping out of one of our jammers (sprained ankle), which implied the entering of an hybrid skater as alternate jammer, shaking up the established order.
Yet, France dominated that game hands down too, leaving only 4 leads in the first half and 5 in the second to Denmark, and treating themselves to a couple of 2-min jams containing the black jammer.

At the break, France was leading 139 to 39. Word was given to wear out the opposing jammers, who proved to be more agile than powerful, in holding them at least for one or two curves. Indeed during the second half, Denmark's jammer rotation drastically changed from classic 3-jammer to no less than 6 players taking the star, probably to wisely spare their main jammers for their upcoming game against Norway.
In 10 jams, Denmark hardly scored 8 points while France had long reached the bar of the 200 (217). Then, France experienced the troubles mentioned above and Denmark made the most of it to bail out and double their score, finishing with a smaller point-difference than Norway on the first game!
Note: Despite the inner disturbances, France managed to hold the bar and reduce their number of penalties to 25 (against 22 for Denmark).


The third and last game of the day was dominated by the local team, Norway. The game unfolded without surprise, with a clockwork point collection on both sides: I wrote down the scores every 5 min out of curiosity, and figures show that, every 5 min, Norway was steadily scoring about 18 points and Denmark 7-8... which led to quite a point difference in the end.
The second half witnessed lots of falls and some kamikaze actions. The long day was coming to an end and everybody could feel the weight of the heavy schedule and last minute changes on their shoulders.
But the day still held a surprise in store! The second period had started for hardly 10 min that the fire alarm went off and didn't seem willing to stop. Jams obviously had to be suspended for a while before the problem was finally fixed (after a few recurrences...)


The lights of the venue had already been turned off when we all left, by 10PM. We stopped at our hostel to get rid of our skatebags before heading to the afterparty, the Rebel Bar, playing 80's music all night long -until 3AM. We passed the bouncer challenge with success, after half of the team was asked if they were under age, and entered the bar to realize that it was pretty empty. To our relief, people arrived soon after, and we could enjoy George Michael and Madonna all together.
Let's note that France also won the afterparty, being the last ones in, and forced to leave because the bar was closing. We wandered about in the streets of Oslo to finally reach the hostel about 4AM.

Liberté - Egalité (out of order) - Fraternité
As you can guess, waking up in the morning for the 10AM check-out was rough.

A good bunch of us enjoyed our free Sunday in Oslo going for a swim in the North Sea, taking pictures in front of French toilet cabins and quickly visiting the Vigeland park, full of statues striking interesting poses.

I took my flight back in the evening, collapsing out of exhaustion into the least comfy plane seat ever tested (which is a very poor rating given the number of planes I've taken in my whole life).

NEXT TEAM FRANCE DATE: The European Derby Tournament in Mons on Sept. 6-7 to fight for the title, also featuring Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Wales...
Stay tuned!


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