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FOOTBALL

Sports Digest: Gothenburg Angels answer fans’ prayers

Sports digest is The Local's weekly look at sporting events making the news in Sweden and beyond.

Football</b

IFK Göteborg, nicknamed The Angels (Änglarna), have won the Swedish title for the first time in eleven years. A 2-0 win over Trelleborg was enough to bring the trophy back to Gothenburg and banish bitter memories from earlier this year.

IFK began the season as a club in crisis. A financial scandal led to convictions for two prominent former board members and there was little talk of the Gothenburg side as potential championship winners.

But when striker Marcus Berg hit a rich vein of form, scoring 14 goals in 17 appearances, there were some who suddenly dared to believe. Berg’s transfer in August to Dutch club Groningen could have come at a better time but by then the westerners had found their rhythm and the goals continued to flow.

Coming into the final week of the season, IFK knew they needed to win both their remaining games. A hotly disputed goal by Mattias Bjärsmyr gave them a vital three points away to AIK last Monday before goals from Thomas Olsson and Pontus Wernbloom finished off Trelleborg in front of a capacity crowd at Ullevi.

The Angels can be expected to shed tears of joy when they congregate at Götaplatsen at 5pm on Monday to celebrate a return to the heavenly heights to which they were once well-accustomed.

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Gothenburg’s nearest rivals had mixed fortunes on the final day.

Kalmar kept the pressure on with a 2-0 win at home to AIK, securing the team second place and a hard-earned UEFA Cup spot.

For Djurgården meanwhile, the season ended as it began, with a 1-0 defeat against Brommapojkarna. Despite doing the double over their local rivals, however, Brommapojkarna failed to avoid relegation in their first season ever in the top flight.

Allsvenskan: Table and results.

The Local

Golf

Daniel Chopra, Fredrik Jacobson and Shigeki Maruyama were tied for the lead in the Ginn Classic on Sunday when the final round was halted by darkness at Port St. Lucie in Florida.

The trio will have to return on Monday morning to battle for the title in the $4.5 million, which was thrown off schedule by heavy rains earlier in the week.

Sweden’s Chopra and Jacobson and Japan’s Maruyama were all at 18-under par, Maruyama and Jacobson through 16 holes and Chopra through 15.

Dicky Pride was in the clubhouse on 16-under 267, after a nine-under 64 in the fourth round.

Chopra, seeking his first US tour win, moved as low as 19-under through eight holes – when he led Maruyama by three strokes.

But he had given back two shots on the back nine when play was stopped.

“It was a tough back nine,” Chopra said. “I missed a putt on the 10th hole. I didn’t feel very comfortable after that. It was all a bit of a struggle. And I got some horrible lies in the rough. I got a couple of weak drives and managed to get up and down on the greens to keep myself where I’m at.”

Chopra had to play seven holes early Sunday to complete his third round, and he went into the final round with a two-stroke edge.

Maruyama started his round with three straight birdies, but couldn’t maintain the momentum.

He gave back shots at eight and 12, but reapplied the pressure with a birdie at 15 and an eagle at 16 that gave him a share of the lead.

At 137th on the money list, Maruyama is vying to move up into the top 125 and secure his playing privileges for next year.

“I was actually not trying to get into the top 125, I was trying to finish 150,” Maruyama said. “Luckily, I have a chance this week to finish 125.”

Pride had seven birdies and an eagle without a bogey in his round.

He jumpstarted his round with an eagle at the second, and nabbed two more birdies before the turn. He picked up a shot at the 10th, then capped his round with four birdies in a row.

While the PGA Tour season won’t end until next week’s stop in Orlando, Florida, big names such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have already started their vacations.

AFP

Skiing

Anja Pärson’s World Cup season got off to a disappointing start on Saturday when she could only manage a 7th place finish in the giant slalom at Solden in Austria. Italy’s Denise Karbon won the season’s opener.

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There were two Swedish podium finishes on the artificial snow in Düsseldorf on Saturday.

Björn Lindh came in second behind Germany’s Josef Wenzl in the men’s freestyle sprint.

The women’s sprint was won by Russia’s Natalia Matveeva in front of the

hotly fancied Norwegian Marit Bjorgen with Anna Dahlberg of Sweden in third.

SKI

INTERVIEW: Swedish doctor on the state of the coronavirus in ski resorts

Sweden's government has decided to leave its ski resorts open during the current 'sports holiday', despite concerns that this could lead to rising infections. The Local spoke to Anders Lindblom, the infectious disease doctor in Dalarna, about how it is going in the region's ski resorts.

INTERVIEW: Swedish doctor on the state of the coronavirus in ski resorts
The Lindvallen ski resort in Sälen is busy this week. Photo: Gustaf Månsson/SvD/TT

The annual 'sportlov' school break kicked off last week and will run through the first two weeks of March, with the exact week varying depending on where in Sweden you live. In a normal year, a lot of families use this break to go skiing in the Swedish mountains. At the time of writing, the ski resorts remain open, but the Public Health Agency has issued guidelines on how to travel safely – although some regions advise against travelling at all.

What's the current situation in Dalarna [a region in central Sweden and home to popular ski resort Sälen]?

We don't have the highest incidence in Sweden. The cases have been increasing a little bit over the last three weeks from a relatively low level, but the travel obviously makes it difficult to foresee what's coming. So I'm a little bit worried about what's going to happen.

What are your worries?

I hope it won't happen, but if the cases increase in the ski resorts, they're going to take their disease back to their home counties, and if we see a lot of increase in those counties, it could mean more patients in hospital.

We're in the second week of the 'sport holiday', how has it been going so far?

It's going fairly well. We had a meeting with the Public Health Agency and the regional government today. In the ski resorts in Dalarna, they are following the rules pretty well, but when they go shopping on the way to the ski resorts, it gets crowded in the shops and in the petrol stations on the way up.

So what are you going to do about this? Are you going to recommend that people shop before they travel up?

We've done that before, but we're going to repeat that message again. We're going to repeat it in Dalarna, and also the Public Health Agency is going to issue it as a national recommendation.

What will it take for the sport holiday not to lead to a surge in infections?

It's very important that people follow the rules in the ski resorts, to keep their distance and avoid crowded areas, especially indoors.

I don't think the problem is outside. If you're outside, the risk of spreading the disease is minimal. The high risk is crowded places indoors – shops and restaurants – and so far, it's not crowded in the restaurants, and the ski lounges are closed during the day.

If you just stay with your family or your travel companions when you're indoors, it's not that risky. It's when you have parties with other people, and mix with other people, that there's a problem. Then it can spread from one travelling company to another.

If a family go up there, get sick, take a test and go home, that's not going to spread the disease.

Anders Lindblom is the infectious diseases doctor for Dalarna. Photo: Region Dalarna

If you had been able to decide, would you have wanted the ski resorts to close?

I can't decide myself whether people can travel. If the government and the Public Health Agency allow travelling, what I can do is make it as safe as possible for people to be in the ski resorts.

So I'm having a lot of discussions with the companies up there, at the lifts, and at the hotels, and at the shops, so that not too many people go in there, that they can rent skis outdoors, and to make sure that the restaurants follow the rules.

As far as we see right now, the spread of Covid-19 is not that extensive. But I think there's a risk that people don't follow the rules.

How are you getting the message out so far?

From the ski resorts, when people are booking their trip there, or the hotel or a cabin, they get the message from the vendors, and we repeat the message whenever we get interviewed, and I think the Public Health Agency are going to repeat the message when they speak to the media on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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People skiing in Sälen on Tuesday. Photo: Gustaf Månsson/SvD/TT

A cluster of the variant first discovered in South Africa has been found in Sälen. Is there a risk the resort could become a centre point for growth of that particular variant?

We saw some spread among the inhabitants in Sälen, but that is going down. We don't know about the tourists.

What could it mean for the spread of that particular variant? If there's so many people coming in and out of the resort, is there a risk that it could really get established?

I think it's already established. The risk is that it's going to spread around Sweden. That's the problem, and it could be that when people from Dalarna go on their spring vacation, they can get affected and spread it when they come home as well.

What's coming next? Are there new recommendations on the way?

We discussed the situation with the Public Health Agency on Friday, and we did it yesterday [Monday] and today [Tuesday] as well. They are going to talk to the government, and see what they should do. 

I think they're going to tighten up the restrictions that we already have, that's for sure. I'm not sure if they're going to make any new restrictions.

When do you expect the new restrictions?

The Public Health Agency has told us that it is going to be this week.

What other actions have you taken? 

We have a lot of test stations in the ski resorts, so you can go there and get tested every day. I think we have four test stations. What we are advising people to do is, if you get sick, get a test, and stay home until you get a result. If it's positive, then then you should go home.

So I suppose the big test will be when Stockholm has its sport holiday next week?

We had Gothenburg last week, and we have Skåne this week. There have been a lot of people in the ski resorts this week and last week, but maybe it's going to be more people next week.

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