I will tell about the atmosphere in Latvia during the 2000 World
Championships. Our team is fantastic!!! We have a new coach, and he has
made many improvements in the team. The team is much friendlier and they
play more as a team, not just for individuals. All the players on our
team play for different clubs abroad so no one plays in the Latvian
championship because there is not much competition. But we have many new
young players who are very good and will show you soon what they can do.
One example is Janis Sprukts who is only 18 and played in the World
Championships this year.
We have only four ice arenas in Latvia. Can you believe it??? And yet we
play such good hockey!!! Our fans are the best in the world - at least
all the newspapers say so!!! We are all very friendly and if you
visited, everyone here would call you a friend.
In Riga, whether there was a victory or a loss, about 1 to 3 thousand
fans went through the streets singing songs and shouting! We went to all
the countries' embassies and sang the national anthem of Latvia; then to
our President's castle and shook her hand; then to the Saima, as our
government is called, and met our prime minister and other ministers!!
It was just fantastic!!!! Then everyone went to the pubs and cafes in
Old Riga, which is the heart and center of Riga.
Last year Vaira-Vike Freiberga was elected as our
president! It doesn't look like she really enjoys hockey like our last
president - Guntis Ulmanis, did! But now she is starting to like it and
that's good! Yeah, maybe it's unbelievable, but it's true; she shook
our hands and said how happy she was for our victory! The prime minister
said that Latvia has the best hockey fans in the world and I also shook
his hand! Now we have a new prime minister - Andris Berzinsh, and he was
elected on the same day we beat Russia! And actually, they interrupted the
election process because they wanted to watch the game, and afterward, they
all stood by the TV, some of our leading politicians put their hands on their hearts
and sang our anthem!!! No one could believe our victory! After that
our previous minister - Andris Shkele, said that Russians were beaten in
his time, because the new government was elected only after the match!!!
If you were here, you would like it!!!! It's really great!!! After the
victory over Russia, many people cried and sang the anthem, including
Arthurs Irbe. Everyone was so happy as never before in our lifetimes!!
But oh, I am very sorry we lost to the Czechs; I became so sad. It was
more quiet in Riga than it has been for a long time. It was a good match
though. Irbe made one stupid mistake that broke the team
psychologically. The team was on a wave and went on and on until Irbe's
mistake. They just couldn't play after that. And Buzek hit Belavskis
hard and caused him to loose consciousness. The hit gave him a
But actually, the Czechs were better and deserved the victory. They had
a stronger team and players!!! But I hope we will do better next year.
And maybe, when I go to Germany, I can meet some of you.
Express your opinion on Forum!!