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Everything you need to know about the Baltics

Jan 19, 2005

It's a well-known fact that success in sport breeds popularity among people. Lithuanians have their basketball. Estonians have their Carmen Kaas (well, modeling is a sort of sport). And Latvians have their hockey.

Yes, in a desperate attempt to vicariously experience success, Latvians generally root body, mind and soul for their hockey team, since it's the only major sport in which the country has any hope of actually winning something. And sure enough, whenever the country does win a game, the fans have an extremely annoying habit of going to the embassy of the vanquished opponent, and loudly tooting their horns, and waving their beer bottles about. What a hoot. But while Latvia always does okay in hockey, it never wins a major tournament. It just does well enough for people to go on idly dreaming that one sweet day they'll slip a few pucks past the best of them through the deft touch of their big hard hockey sticks. It's almost frightening to think what would happen if Latvia really did win a major tournament. The capital would probably be renamed Ripa (puck), and that's just for starters.

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