Sondre Olden, 25 year old lad from Oslo, is a new face in 'The Den' from this summer. Day after day, he proves that with him Medveščak got a great reinforcement, and that he is one of the key players in the new roster.
Sondre, when we think of Norwegian sport, what first comes to mind are some other sports, not hockey.
Yes, skiing and women's handball are the most popular sports in Norway, and we always had good results. Recently, men's handball is also up, and you Croats know this well because we beat you in the semifinals of the last World Championship. (laughs)
If you weren't a hockey player, would you do some of the mentioned sports?
It's hard to tell now, but if I wasn't a hockey player, I would probably be a professional tennis player, or – as could be expected from a hockey player to say – a golfer.
How did you become a hockey player in the first place?
My mother ran a hockey school for children in Oslo, my home town. This is where I learned to skate, my brother also started there as a goalie, and my sister went to the same school and started to skate there, but she didn't continue with hockey. My father is also a great sports enthusiast, even though he never did any sports professionally, but he was always with us at the skating hall and was always a great support. When I was 5 or 6, I started to train hockey and I liked it, so I decided to continue. My first team was Manglerud.
Then, how did your career develop?
When I was 15 or 16, I went to Sweden, and at 17 I was drafted by Toronto Maple Leafs.
You spent one season in North America?
Yes, one season in junior league, OHL. The coach of my team, Erie Otters, was a friend of the Toronto's scouts' chief, so he brought me to the club. This experience helped a lot in my career. It was fun to play in this league, even though we didn't have much success.
After North America, you returned home?
Exactly, I went back to Norway. Partly because my heart longed for home, for Norway... In the Norwegian league there are huge quality discrepancies between top teams and those not at the top. There are many fast and skilful players, the play is very quick, but also very defensive in style. I played the 3rd line, I didn't do powerplay, and just because of that I could not score too many goals, and also I didn't play in any of the strongest teams, but I learned a lot in these 2-3 years in Sweden. This was also a very precious experience for me.
Can you compare these leagues with EBEL?
The Swedish league is definitely a top European league, but EBEL is stronger than Norwegian league. As far as I notice, here we have better quality foreign players and it looks that anyone can beat anyone.
With only 21 years you played for Norwegian national team at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Great achievement!
That season I played very well in the Norwegian league, and I also proved myself at some exhibition matches of the national team, so I was invited to Sochi. Unfortunately, I hurt my shoulder just two weeks before the Games. But I went there anyway and tried to play, and unfortunately I was not at my 100%. But it was great to see some of the world best hockey players and feel what's it like to play against them.
How much did you know about Zagreb and Medveščak before you got here?
I've never been to Zagreb or Croatia before, even though your country is a popular tourist destination for Norwegians. I spoke about Croatia with some of my countrymen, and they all told me that Zagreb is a beautiful town, and now I can confirm that personally. People here are very nice and friendly, just like in Norway, and the great advantage is that many of them speak English, which makes things easier for me. Regarding Medveščak, I knew that they played in KHL. Adam Deutsch, who played here earlier, also told me that I am going to love the club, and he was right.
Did you know any of your current teammates before?
Adam Deutsch only. I mostly hang out with him here. In our free time we go to excellent restaurants in the town center, to the movies and the suchlike. Other guys I met during pre-season, we also hang out outside of ice, and there is lots of fun and laughter when we socialize.
You play better and better with each new round. What are your expectations from this season?
First of all, to reach playoffs. We are a new team, we are still in search for the play, but things now look much better. I believe that we will play much better in the rest of the season, and if, I mean, when we reach playoffs, anything is possible.
Let's get to personal things. What is your favorite food?
Tacos, I eat them every Friday.
Your favorite movie?
There are many, but if I must to choose one, it's 'Stepbrothers'.
Norwegian DJ Kygo, but I like all kinds of styles.
Besides hockey, do you follow any other sports?
I like to watch soccer and skiing and, same as any Norwegian, woman's handball. I am also interested in UFC.
And finally, did you learn any Croatian words?
Your language is not easy, so far I learned 'hvala' and 'Bok ja sam Sondre'.
Well then, Sondre, 'hvala' and 'bok' until the next meeting!
If you wish to know more about the new Medveščak's player Sondre Olden, check out the newest MEDVEŠČAK Magazin at Kreator TV.