National Ice Bathing Record Broken

ice bath

Lea Marie Galgana broke the national record for longest time spent in an ice bath at the third annual ice bathing championships last week, mbl.is reports. Lea Marie sat in a bath at a temperature of 0°C [32°F] for an astounding 42 minutes and 20 seconds. The previous record was held by Vilhjálmur Andri Einarsson who remained in an ice bath for 20 minutes during last year’s competition.

Second place went to Algirdas Kazulis, who stayed in an ice bath for 41 minutes and 18 seconds. Sigurður J. Ævarsson placed third at 35 minutes, 5 seconds. Seven people competed overall.

The competition is organized by Benedikt S. Lafleur and aims to draw attention to the health benefits of cold bathing.

Árneshreppur Municipal Election Results Challenged

árneshreppur

The proceedings of the recently finished municipal vote in Árneshreppur have been charged, RÚV reports. There was a high number of legal residence changes leading up to the elections, which are believed to have affected the vote in Árneshreppur, one of the least populated constituencies in the country.

A fraudulent vote?

The charge is being pressed by the individuals Elís Svavar Kristinsson and Ólafur Valsson, who believe that there were such severe faults with the voting process that it must have affected the vote. The handling of the legal residence changes by Registers Iceland and the chairman of the district council in Árneshreppur were critiqued severely in the charge. The rural district council broke the law when it did not receive comments from another party than Registers Iceland. Elís and Ólafur believe that there are enough conditions in place for the vote to be officially void.

Dubious residence changes

Seventeen individuals changed their legal residence to the municipality of Árneshreppur between April 24 and May 5, the deadline for legal residence changes to appear in the electoral register. The 17 new registrations represent a 40% increase in the municipality’s number of voters.

Of the 17 individuals, 9 registered their legal residence at the farm Drangar. One of Drangar’s owners told RÚV he does not know the individuals and had sent a letter to Registers Iceland asking them to look into the matter.

The rural district council had originally requested that Registers Iceland investigate whether the legal residence changes were actual residence changes. The police assisted with the investigation, which culminated with the removal of the majority of the newly registered voters in the district from the voters’ list.

A matter of nature

A proposed power plant in the area was the focal point of the municipal elections in Árneshreppur. One of the individuals who has moved his legal residence to Drangar farm is Saving Iceland spokesperson Snorri Páll Jónsson. Saving Iceland is an organization which opposes the building of power plants in Iceland. One of the biggest election issues in the municipality is a planned hydropower plant.

The charge was brought to the to the district this weekend and the district magistrate Jónas Guðmundsson has appointed a committee of three lawyers, which will take a stance on the charge.

More Domestic Abusers Seek Help

The number of perpetrators in domestic abuse relationships that seek help in the treatment centre Heimilisfriður has increased by 25% from last year, Vísir reports. The majority of those who seek help are males, between 85% to 90% of the total, and male on female violence is often

The treatment centre Heimilisfriður (Peace of the Home), which is run by the Ministry of Welfare, has been in operation for twenty years. Children’s protection agencies, as well as police authorities, have steered perpetrators to Heimilisfriður, but many have also sought help by themselves. Around 920 individuals have sought the services of the treatment centre in those twenty years, but there has been a noticeable increase recently, with a 25% increase between this year and the last.

The psychologist Andrés Ragnarsson, one of the founders of Heimilisfriður, believes that movements such as #MeToo and an increased focus on domestic abuse has led to this change “I believe what we are doing now is incredibly positive, and we are opening the lid on something that has been kept silent for far, far too long.” Some of those who seek help have even mentioned movements such as #MeToo specifically when they arrive for assistance “I don’t have the exact number for those who have done so, but some have. They have mentioned it, that something started to happen, as they examined their behaviour they realized that what they were doing was not simply “something”, but that it was actually violence that they were performing”

Island For Sale

island for sale

The whole of the island of Vigur in Ísafjarðardjúp has been placed on sale, mbl.is reports. The island is described as a unique natural pearl and is known as Perlan í Djúpinu (The Pearl in the Deep). Guided tours head daily to Vigur in the summertime, as the island has over 10,000 visitors per year.

If Vigur is sold, all of its housing and belongings will accompany the purchase. The island has cumulative housing space of over 700 square metres (7500 square feet), including a barn, cowshed, smokehouse, garage, and finally, a two-story, 10 bedroom house.

The island has a rich and varied birdlife, as around 30 thousand pairs of puffins lay their eggs on the island as well as being home to black guillemots and the arctic tern. Vigur is around 45 hectares in size (0.45 square kilometres, 0.17 square miles), with 10.9 hectares (0.109 square kilometres, 0.04 square miles) of those devoted to farmland.

The owners are currently open for offers, but it is expected that interest levels are high, as such a unique land rarely goes on sale. Davíð Ólafsson, the estate agent who handles the sale of Vigur, has been on the phone non-stop today “I have never experienced anything like this in terms of interest levels for a property.

Vigur is available for purchase on the property portion of mbl.is, further information can be found in Icelandic here.

To Russia With Love (the short version)

Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson

September 6, 2013. It’s a warm fall evening in Bern, and Iceland squares up against a much-fancied Switzerland side in a World Cup qualifying match for. Iceland, led by Swedish coach Lars Lägerback and his assistant, Heimir Hallgrímsson, have performed admirably so far in qualification. The dream of playing in fabled Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the home of football in Brazil, is still distant, however. After an unexpected Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson opener, the Swiss team appears to be a number too big for the Icelandic players, as Iceland find themselves 4-1 down 54 minutes in. After a quickfire Icelandic equalizer, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson steps up as he scores two breathtaking goals to draw the Icelanders level and complete his hat-trick – the first one that an Icelander has ever scored in a competitive match. The image of the Icelandic team celebrating still lingers in people’s memories. That night in Bern gave both the nation and the team a newfound belief – and Iceland hasn’t looked back since.

Five years later, Jóhann Berg is gearing up for the World Cup tournament in Russia. Although the surroundings will be different, the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow will be the setting of the same spectacle as the sandy beaches of Brazil promised some years back. The Icelandic team came so close in 2013, losing a play-off matchup against Croatia. The Croatians wait again this time around, as they have been drawn with Iceland in a group. Jóhann Berg is riding high into to the tournament, as he enjoyed a fantastic season with unfancied outfit Burnley in the English Premier League. He was voted into the ESPN Team of the year for players outside England’s top six and has provided 8 assists along with goals against stalwarts such as Liverpool and Manchester City. If anyone is ready for the World Cup, it’s Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson. We picked Jóhann’s brain on the upcoming World Cup, beating England at the EURO 2016, and his Counter-Strike skills.

Jói Bern and playoff heartbreak

After the hat-trick in Bern, Jóhann Berg received the apt nickname Jóhann Bern. “That night in Bern helped the team immensely. We saw how good we could really become. It was one massive step in the process of us going to the World Cup. It was a magnificent night for Icelanders as well as me personally. I will always look back fondly on that night.” The dream of qualifying for Brazil 2014 ended abruptly, however, in a two-legged playoff against Croatia. At the time, many Icelanders felt that they had lost their one and only chance and the players struggled with the defeat. “It was difficult to recover from that blow. There were many who believed this was the closest we would ever come to qualifying for the World Cup. What helped us immensely was to recover by qualifying for the EURO 2016. Then we managed, incredibly, to seal our ticket to the World Cup by coming in 1st place in a group with four teams who played at the EURO 2016.”

World Cup fever

Iceland is the smallest nation ever to reach a World Cup tournament, so Icelanders are eagerly waiting for the matches in Russia this summer. Qualifying for the World Cup is way bigger than we realize, I think. In a few years, we will look back on these achievements and realize how great they are. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment while it lasts.” He also recognises the pressure they’re under, as the team was the darling of the EURO 2016. “When you perform well, it makes people sit up and notice. There is pressure on us to do well after our performance at EURO 2016, but I’m not stressed about it. I am just going to play football at the World Cup and have fun. We can do great things if we give 100% in every match.”

An Icelander in England

The famous victory against England at the EURO tournament meant a lot for Jóhann as he lived in England during his teenage years, as well as currently playing in England. “It was extra sweet to beat England. Everybody in Iceland watches English football, and most support England at international tournaments.” Jóhann was on the books of Premier League clubs Fulham and Chelsea as a youngster but suffered an injury which forced him to return to Iceland “I got the taste of being a professional which gave me the extra motivation to return abroad to play. I knew I had the chance after I played one season at home in 2008, and that’s when I received my first international cap as well.” Jóhann was in England when they played at the 2006 World Cup, “If you told me I would play at the World Cup twelve years later with Iceland, I would have thought you were crazy. It was, of course, a dream of mine, but I thought it would never happen.”

The multitalented footballer

Jóhann Berg’s talents are not only showcased on the football field, as he is rumoured to have been a skilled player in the shooter video game Counter-Strike, “I played it a little bit too much at one time. I was good and enjoyed playing with my mates. Let’s just say I was not as good in Counter-Strike as I am at football.” Jóhann recently released a football trivia game in Iceland named Beint í mark, and fancies himself as a bit of a football trivia master “I know quite a lot about football as I both read extensively and watch a lot of games. I think I do alright.”

The golden generation?

Iceland has a great squad of players who play for each other, but what sets the team apart from other teams? “It is very difficult to break us down defensively, so we don’t concede a lot of goals. Couple that with the fact that we always believe we can score, you’ve got a great formula. We’re a difficult side to face as we’ve got big men up top who can win every header.” But is the current generation a so-called ‘golden generation? “It’s not a sure thing getting such a group of footballers together, we’re incredibly lucky. Everybody is willing to run until their lungs burst and we also happen to be good footballers. It’s going to be difficult to get another generation like this, but hopefully qualifying for big tournaments becomes a habit. We need to keep the same values we have today in order to enjoy success in the future.”

Facing superstars

Iceland’s opening match at the World Cup is against Argentina, where the players will face off against the genius of Lionel Messi. The Icelandic team faced a similar situation at the EURO tournament when the first challengers were eventual champions Portugal, starring the world-class Cristiano Ronaldo. When asked about the phenomenal challenge of facing Lionel Messi, Jóhann Berg remains undaunted “These are two of the best footballers in the world, it would be pure joy to get a result against Argentine as we did against Portugal. These players are on another level and play a completely different brand of football than we do. We will do everything to shut down Messi just as we shut down Ronaldo.”

Heimir Hallgrímsson

During Heimir Hallgrímsson’s reign as the Icelandic national team’s manager, Iceland has enjoyed unprecedented success, qualifying for the EURO 2016 and will now step on the grandest sporting stage of them all, the World Cup. By doing so, Iceland became the smallest nation ever to qualify for the tournament.

Heimir’s honest approach to work and life has gained him many admirers. A testament to how beloved he is by his countrymen, a hop-heavy pale ale named Heimir has recently been specially brewed in his honour. We sat down with the charming Heimir to discuss his background in dentistry, his philosophy, and how he plans to stop Lionel Messi this summer.

Team Iceland vs. Messi

Iceland will face off against Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria at the World Cup and the first hurdle at the tournament will be stopping Lionel Messi on the 16th of June in Moscow. “We always work as a team, even when facing superstars. We would never ask one player to stop Lionel Messi, it would be unfair. We do everything together – that is our philosophy.” Teamwork and unity is what sets Iceland apart from other teams. According to Heimir, “Our identity is based on working as a team. There are certain fields we want to be the best in and these are different from other nations. We are unique due to the players’ hard-working nature and unity we display on the field”.

Sharing top secrets

Heimir started out as assistant coach to Swede Lars Lagerback in 2011, at a point when interest in the Icelandic team was at a low and the team hovered around 130 on the FIFA World Rankings. Since Heimir’s work with the team started, Iceland has progressed step by step and is now ranked as the 22nd best footballing nation in the world. He took it upon himself to meet Tólfan, the Icelandic supporters group, in a small pub before the Icelandic team’s home matches. In the meeting, he discusses tactics and discloses the team’s starting line-up, sometimes even before the players themselves know the starting eleven. “Our relationship is on another level. This is unthinkable for other national teams. When we started out there were only seven people attending in a small room. It has grown since then, along with our respect for each other.” Heimir is not afraid to disclose secrets to the select group of fans, “No one wants to destroy this by leaking anything out.”

The optimistic Icelanders

The Icelandic nation eagerly awaits the World Cup, but what can the Icelandic team achieve at the tournament? “Optimism is in Icelander’s DNA so the people want us to win all of the matches in the group – it is simply in our nature. We are realistic however and know that we can everybody as well as lose. Even if we play our best possible match we can still lose against nations like Argentina. I think the best philosophy is to try to enjoy the tournament and approach the World Cup in as relaxed a mood as is possible. If we do our best, we have a chance”

Dentist turned coach

Heimir is a dentist by profession, having tended to the teeth of residents of the remote Vestmannaeyjar archipelago for years. Having now turned his attention fully to the national team, dentistry work is never far away. When attending a match in the women’s top division in his hometown, Heimir was called upon when a player lost a tooth after a clash. In typical unfazed fashion, Heimir drove her to his nearby office and stuck the tooth back in. His background as a dentist has helped him as a manager, as well “As a dentist, you deal with different people throughout the day. The person in the chair might be relaxed, anxious, agitated or desperately frightened. This one-on-one work helps when dealing with football players as you have to treat different people in different ways.”

The unorthodox coach

Heimir’s experience as a football manager differs from most of his colleagues at the World Cup. Heimir has a unique background as he started working as a youth coach with 6-year olds, progressing his career step by step towards coaching women. Transitioning from coaching women to the men’s game is a rarity in football. Since he started working with the Icelandic team he has risen from assistant coach to joint manager and after the EURO 2016, he was hired as the sole manager. “I think that no-one at the World Cup has taken this route in coaching – having such a long career as a youth and women’s coach. One role has led to another as I’ve always been trusted with larger roles. I have never in my life thought ‘What next?’. When I was coaching 6-year olds I really enjoyed it, living in the present and feeling good. Then when I coached a top division women’s team, ÍBV, I thought that was the biggest role I would take on. When you are in the present you give it your all and good things happen to you”.

The World Cup – a different beast

The Icelandic football association has felt the increased interest level around the World Cup. “When Iceland Review comes to a press meeting held by the Football Association of Iceland, it shows that the interest level is tremendous. There have been television crews here from Brazil, Japan, China and Argentina here for weeks on end. It is a great promotion for Icelandic football as it gains more respect worldwide.” When asked if the current success is sustainable, Heimir is not short for answers “The current atmosphere is that this success is completely normal – while there are large nations who have not made it to the World Cup. This team have gotten us to a place where we are among the best – which is a fantastic achievement. People will not realize for about 2 or 3 years how far this team has come. If we attain this level for years to come, we will not always qualify for large tournaments – but if we are in the fight it is a gigantic step for such a small footballing nation as Iceland is.”

Heimir for president?

After the Icelandic team’s success at EURO 2016, there were many who called for the Swedish coach Lars Lagerback to run for the President of Iceland. When asked if he will be in the same position if Iceland performs well at the World Cup, Heimir laughs “I know President Gudni Th. Jóhannesson well enough, and he can do no wrong. If he puts on the wrong pair of socks it simply becomes a trend. There is no-one who will overthrow him unless he decides to leave himself.” On that note, we say goodbye to Heimir and wish him well for the challenges waiting at the World Cup – Áfram Ísland!

Read the full article in the June-July issue of Iceland Review magazine. Subscribe here.

Sea Ice Approaches Icelandic Coast

sea ice

Sea ice is fast approaching the Westfjords of Iceland and could close shipping lanes close to shore, mbl.is reports. The sea ice spread is just short of 12 nautical miles from Horn on the Westfjords. Little to no sea ice has been seen in the area in recent years, as specific weather circumstances have led to this rarity.

“Unusual weather circumstances have played their part in getting the sea ice so unusually close to shore”, commented Teitur Arason, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office. A high pressure zone has been in place south of the country since last Wednesday. Furthermore, a steady southwesterly wind direction has pushed the ice towards the Westfjords, along with the current which flows in the same direction. The ice has been flowing at a pace of 10 nautical miles per day in the areas most affected by the weather.

It is expected that the southwesterly winds will last until Friday, so the sea ice is expected to advance closer to the coast. It is possible that the ice closes shipping lanes close to shore. The Icelandic Coast Guard has warned seafarers of this unusual situation.

The image above is from the Volcanology and Natural Disasters Group of the University of Iceland, which also provides updates in English. The sea ice position reflects the status on the 1st of June, the dotted line reflects the 3rd of June, and the solid line represents the status yesterday.

Rock Ptarmigan Numbers Up

Rock Ptarmigan

The rock ptarmigan population has increased in most parts of the country, Rúv reports. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History released its yearly report on the matter recently, with rock ptarmigan population numbers up in all parts of the country expect South Iceland and East Iceland. Rock ptarmigan numbers are now above average, or average, in all parts of the country.

The estimated total number of ptarmigan in Iceland as of this spring is 173,000. In 2016 the number was 132,000. The most marked increase in rock ptarmigan numbers was in the Westfjords and North West Iceland. The density of male rock ptarmigans was the third highest in the district of Þingeyjarsýsla since measurements began in 1981.

Regular fluctuations in rock ptarmigan numbers last for 10 to 12 years, and the stock was at a high point in 1986 and 1998. Rock ptarmigan are still hunted in Iceland as they are considered a delicacy, often consumed on Christmas Eve. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History claims the preservation status the rock ptarmigan gained in 2003 has helped immensely to restore the numbers. A noticeable decrease in rock ptarmigan hunting has also taken place since 2005, while the hunting permit for this past hunting season allowed for 57,000 ptarmigan to be shot. The hunting takes place for 12 total days, spread over weekends.

Ólafur Karl Nielsen at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History can provide further information on the matter. E-mail: [email protected]