OTTAWA – Norway didn’t have an easy time of it on ice at the 1990 Women’s World Championship. The Nordic nation was outscored 35-4, but it did beat West Germany, 6-3, en route to a sixth-place finish.
One of the team’s two goalies was Kari Berg. She played the last half of the game against the United States, and about the same length of time against the Swiss. This turned out to be her only WW action, but now, some 23 years later, she is more active in hockey within Norway than she was a quarter century ago.
“I first started playing hockey when I was about 12 or 13,” she explained. “My team was the Manglerud Stars, the best team in Norway at the time and celebrating its 100th anniversary this season. Our coach asked us who wanted to play goal, and I thought, who not, I’ll try. At first, we played rinkbandy, which is bandy played on a hockey rink. I actually played for the national team and we were Norwegian champions in rinkbandy in the 80s.”
In the late 1980s there were several girls’ teams in Norway, and it was from this pool that players were selected for the national team to compete in Ottawa. They practised five or six times a week, and most of the players came from the two teams in Oslo, Manglerud and Valerenga. As well, there were training camps arranged for coaches to assess who were the most talented girls in Norway.
“We practiced several times a week and played games against U16 boys,” Berg explained. “We also played in a women’s league. Although we practiced most days, it was difficult because times were often late at night during the week and very early on the weekend.”
Berg has several memories of the Ottawa tournament, first and foremost playing against the U.S. in a bad 17-0 loss. She replaced starting goalie Kari Fjellhammer, but the two Karis were no match for the explosive American attack.
“I remember we were surprised that Team Canada played in pink and white jerseys,” she enthused. “But what I remember best is the game against USA because we really thought that we were a better team than in that game! We had a great time. We also visited the Norwegian Embassy in Ottawa, and after the tournament several of the girls went down to Florida for a vacation.”
“It was a long time ago, but I remember that the atmosphere in the rink was great and the crowds were big, which was very unusual for us. We also felt that we were being taken seriously in this first ever World Championship for women, and that was very special.”
Berg brought back several mementos, one of which have become more important with time. “I bought home a jersey from the team Toronto Maple Leafs with my number 20 and name Kari printed on the back. My son is now playing with number 20 for his team in Skedsmo!”
Little did she know it at the time, but 1990 was to be Berg’s one and only Women’s Worlds. “After the tournament in Canada, I played at the European Championships in 1991, in Czechoslovakia,” she recounted. “We lost the bronze-medal game to Denmark, 3-2. That was my final championship. At this time I had already played for ten years in two different winter sports [hockey and rinkbandy] and it was time to do something else.”
For the next 15 years, Berg and hockey never crossed paths. In 1996, she married Nils Rogstad. Kari was working as a customer service manager for Ingram Micro, and soon enough the happy couple started a family.
In 1997, they had a daughter, Ida Kristine, and three years later Kari gave birth to a boy, Eirik. One day, when he was six years old, he made a small remark that changed Berg’s life. “He came home from school and asked me if he could participate in hockey school in a club near our home. My kids didn’t know that I had played hockey! From that day on, I once again had the pleasure of being involved in ice hockey.”
And, hockey being a family game, Nils also got involved. “My husband had never played or been involved with ice hockey before Eirik started to play," Kari explained. "When both our kids and I were at the rink, he decided to help the club as well (Skedsmo), and he is now an arena manager! He also works at an IT company."
In 2000, Kari started to work for a subscription agency called Swets, but her interest in hockey grew more and more intense. “I worked as an instructor for the skating and hockey school, then as a coach for my son’s team for a few years. Then I was asked by my club Skedsmo, to start a girls’ team. The same year, 2009, I was also asked by the Norwegian Ice Hockey Federation (NIHF) to work for Girls’ Hockey Day. I couldn’t say no to that invitation!”
That initial involvement with Girls’ Hockey Day has gotten stronger and stronger. “In addition to my full-time job, I work for the Norwegian Ice Hockey Federation for the Girls’ Hockey Day, promoting girls’ hockey and traveling to different clubs in Norway. I run about ten of these a year now. I also arrange for girls-only tournaments ages U11 to U14, and I am also a coach for district team Akershus, girls U13–U18 (we won bronze this year). I have completed my coaching qualifications for steps I and II offered by the by NIHF, coaching elite camps for girls."
Berg has set up a website as well as a Facebook page and her two kids continue to play. Eirik is a goalie while Ida Kristine is now playing in the top division in Norway and also on a boys’ U14 team. As well, she has been to the IIHF Development Camps in Vierumaki, Finland twice and has also attended Youth Hockey Symposiums, girls camps, and elite camps. Kari is also a member of the board for Akershus hockey district promoting girls’ hockey.
As for that 1990 team, the memories don’t fade, and neither do the friendships she had with her teammates, an integral part of hockey culture.
“I have still several friends from ice hockey,” Berg said. “Last December we had a reunion with my team from Valerenga and in January we had a reunion with 15-20 hockey friends from various teams. It was really great! Kari Fjellhammer, the other goalie from 1990, is a coach for my daughter in Jordal and is doing a great job with girls from young age. As well, one of my other teammates, Marit Larssen, is still one of my best friends, and we see each other all the time. Another teammate, Lena Bergersen, works with me at Swets. She has two sons, aged 17 and 11, and they both play for Manglerud Star.”
Now 47 years young, Berg Rogstad is content in all aspects of life. She loves her job, has two kids and a loving husband, and is thoroughly involved in hockey. “I think coaching is good for me, but I have no ambitions to coach on the national level. I like coaching younger girls and traveling to clubs across Norway with Girls Hockey Day telling stories about the great sport of ice hockey!”