Navigating to Norway: Team Norway

by Fraser Posford

On July 8-9 2017, 15 national teams from all over Europe will compete in Oslo, Norway for the title of European Champion. The next article in our European Games 2017 series is on the home team: Team Norway.

Roster

Heidi Åmot
Trym Berge
Stein Elgethun
Chloe Ewens
Christian Forner
Anders Gorboe
Elisabeth Helle
Elisabeth Jørstad
Alexandra Krauser
Jakob Lenz
Viktor Moortgat
Jorge Murillo
Ulrik Olsen
Jørgen Stenløkk
Amund Storruste
Anders Storruste
Mette Sundal
Roeland ter Hoeven
Lisa Tietze
Eva Verpe  (injured)
Merlin Zimmermann

Interview with Head Coach Amund Kulsrud Storruste

QP: How are you preparing your team for European Games (EG)?
Storruste: The players have been training together regularly through training weekends since November. We just finished our fifth training weekend, and we still have some sessions left before the tournament. The final playing squad was selected a month ago, and the remaining practices will be focused on building cohesion and getting everyone familiar with the systems we want to play.  

QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?
Storruste: We want to perform and win matches. Norwegian club teams have been performing at a top European level this season, and the national team has the ability to do so as well.

QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Storruste: First of all, I’m looking forward to our whole group in general. I really like the format and think it opens up for a lot more interesting games for both spectators and players.

I’m especially looking forward to playing Turkey, though. Turkish teams have been stomping my ass ever since the finals of the first Intergalaktik Cup in 2016. The Unicorns also knocked out my team [NTNUI Rumpeldunk] from the semifinals of the European Quidditch Cup (EQC) this year, so I am looking forward to having another go at them.

Outside of our group, I would also love to play Germany. They’ve had an amazing development last year and seem to have been working well with their team leading up to European Games this year.

Oh, and Sweden. Of course. Gotta beat Sweden.

Norway after catching the snitch to beat Germany at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Storruste: Travel times and distances can be a problem in Norway. We’ve been holding training sessions in Trondheim and Oslo, which are an eighthour drive apart. Considering other tournaments and the league, which have both also been in Oslo, living in Trondheim means you have to travel quite a lot. I can’t complain too much, though. European Games is practically being held in my parents back yard.

Also, assistant coach [Jakob] Lenz has been creating a lot of problems for the national team this season. His deeply rooted hatred of NTNUI Rumpeldunk has made cooperation inside the coaching team close to impossible. We’ve still been able to sort out the worst disagreements with the help of the bench, though. The one who lifts the most is always right.

QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players (or underrated players) we should watch out for?
Storruste: Our usual strength of having #theBetterGermans is this year also supplemented with having #theBetterMexican, #theBetterBelgian, #theBetterBrit, and #theBetterDutch. We’ll make sure to use this to our advantage.

As for players to look out for, check out Eva Verpe! She has had a great season with the London Unspeakables and was given a spot on the team. She sadly got her knee injured (rumours by envious UK development squad members who also wanted to play for Norway), but she’s definitely a player to look out for next season!

QP: After many years, it’s finally Norway’s turn to host a major international tournament! What impact do you think European Games will have on quidditch in Norway? Do you think that hosting the tournament puts you at an advantage or disadvantage in your search of European glory?
Storruste: European Games will hopefully help Norwegian quidditch expand. Germany saw an amazing growth after the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup with a lot of teams starting up. Hopefully we will see some of the same tendency during the next season in Norway.

I feel like playing at home field has mostly advantages. The weather is cooler and easier to adjust to, travel is limited, and preparation is simpler. Some people who are important to the team are a bit tied up planning the tournament, but it hasn’t really been an issue so far.

European glory, here we come!

Analysis

Hosts Norway are a country on the rise again after a disappointing 2016. A tough EQC 2016 for Norwegian teams and a narrow 100*-80 loss to Mexico in the World Cup Round of 16 for the national side was not what they would have hoped for. However, OSI Viking’s Division II win and NTNUI Rumpeldunk’s fourth place at EQC 2017 suggest that the national team may well be in the hunt for another podium finish this year, having taken the bronze in Sarteano two years ago at European Games 2015.

Norway celebrating their first win at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Coach Amund Kulsrud Storruste spearheads a highly athletic beater lineup that includes the in-form Mette Sundal, Heidi Åmot, and Team World’s Lisa Tietze (returning to Norway having played for Germany in 2016). Coupled with the strength of their chaser defence, Norway should be tough to break down and in Storruste have one of Europe’s elite aggressive beaters who can create plenty of scoring opportunities for his quaffle players at the other end of the pitch.

As arguably one of Europe’s best keepers, losing captain and talisman Kai Haugen Shaw to a shoulder injury is a huge blow to the Norwegians. However, rookie Christian Forner has shown signs of promise that he can fill Shaw’s brightlycoloured boots following his performances for NTNUI Rumpeldunk at EQC, especially in their defeat of reigning champions Titans Paris. Norway excels at driving to score the majority of their points, especially when counter-attacking against a transitioning defence; however, they will need to vary their offensive approach if they are to consistently score hoops against their Group A rivals.

Norway’s traditional weakness has been their seeker play, both in terms of losing games in snitch range and taking a long time to make a game-ending grab from a winning position. With so little to choose between the Group A teams going into EG, this part of their game will be firmly under the spotlight. Jørgen Stenløkk and Trym Berge have both managed to secure vital catches to claim famous victories for their respective teams (Stenløkk caught to beat Titans for NTNUI at EQC, Berge caught to beat Warwick Quidditch Club for Holyrood Hippogriffs Firsts at British Quidditch Cup) this season, and they will be hoping that either of them can replicate one of these moments at EG. Another European Games medal is a realistic aim for Norway going into this tournament, and if they can make home advantage count in their favour, they may well be dark horses to take the title.   

Jørgen Stenløkk keeping at the 2016 IQA Quidditch World Cup | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography