Vipers shine

Women’s handball league stages championships, but results same for Kristiansand

Kristiansand Vipers handball player prepares to throw

Photo: Carina Johansen/NTB
Kristiansand’s Henny Ella Reistad had six goals and was named the outstanding player in the Vipers 29-16 victory over Sola for the Norway Cup title May 15.

MICHAEL KLEINER
Business and Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

Well, the REMA-1000 women’s handball league managed to open the window a crack to let some sunshine in, but it shined once again on Kristiansand Vipers, taking the luster from Sola’s fine season—and Storhamar.

After four months of creating different scenarios that would allow them to restart the season that was dormant since Jan. 14 because of the coronavirus, all dependent on “if” the authorities felt there had been sufficient progress in controlling the virus, they staged a championship game May 11 and a Norwegian Cup title game May 15. That was actually progress. The entire playoffs last year were canceled.

No matter. The Vipers maintained their dominance, beating Sola 29-16 in the cup final at Stavanger and rival Storhamar 34-25 on May 11 at Kristiansand. It was the Vipers’ fourth straight double, league, and cup titles. 

At the time play was suspended, the three teams were bunched at the top. Storhamar was undefeated at 11-0 with 22 points but had played one more game than Kristiansand, which was 10-0-0 with 20 points. Sola had played only nine games and was 8-0-1 with 16 points. A regular season was 24 games. The Vipers, though, finished with 418 goals, 170-goal differential, 120 more goals than Sola. Yet Sola had two of the league’s top four scorers in leader Malin Holta (75) and Camilla Herren (65) in fourth. Storhamar’s Maja Jakobsen was sixth with 60 goals. The Vipers’ top scorer Heidi Løke (54) was ninth. Sola had not played since Jan. 10, while Kristiansand has been playing in the Champions League outside Norway.

Sola hung with Kristiansand for a while, trailing 10-8 at halftime. Nora Mørk scored three goals in the first five minutes of the second half for the Vipers. A red card to Holta after 10 minutes of the second half proved critical. The Vipers led 17-10 and though Sola closed within 17-13, the Vipers outscored Sola 12-3 the rest of the way. Henny Ella Reistad led Kristiansand with six goals, while Mørk and Vilde Jonassen added four apiece. Sola was led by Chris Burke Kristiane Knutsen with six goals. Reistad was named outstanding player.

Kristiansand team poses for a celebratory picture behind a "Norgesmester" sign

Photo: Carina Johansen/NTB
After a 34-25 win over Storhamar in the league title game, and a 29-16 victory over Sola in the NM match, Kristiansand is no question the “mester” in Norwegian women’s handball.

Kristiansand did have fans to celebrate with, as 100 were allowed to attend.

“It is a lot to put your finger on, but this gold tastes very good,” said Vipers coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad to TV2 after the game.

Storhamar had not played since Feb. 10 in the Europa League. Kristiansand jumped to 6-0 lead after six minutes and had an 18-11 lead at the break. Mørk had seven goals and 11 assists, Reistad six goals, Løke, five. Storhamar was led by Emilie Margrethe Hovden and Guro Nestaker with five goals apiece.

“This was fun. We were a little excited about what it would be like to play a game again and how Storhamar was,” said Mørk to TV 2 “We found out quickly then. Now it’s Sola in the cup final, and then we’ll just do everything in the Champions League final.” 

Yes, Kristiansand is hardly done. They play in the Champions League semifinals in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of May. If the Vipers win, they could face Hungarian power Györ, which has four Norwegians on the team, in the final.

This article originally appeared in the June 4, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.

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