The Jacob Lindahl interview

Table hockey legend Jacob Lindahl makes his North American Stiga debut at the Letís Play Hockey tournament in Las Vegas on Jan. 9, 2006. Mr. Lindahl was kind enough to answer some questions submitted via e-mail by tournament organizers Jim Rzonca and Eric Krol.

Name: Jacob Lindahl
Age: 31
Place of Birth: South Korea. Raised in Sweden.
Job: General Manager, Virgin Cove Resort, Samoa

In the beginning

Q. How old were you and where did you first see your first table hockey game?
A. Got my first Stiga game when I was five years old.

Q.What type or brand of game was it? A Stiga?
A. Stiga (current model at market, Stiga 68)

Q. Did Swedish children get their Stiga table hockey games as Christmas presents like American children did?
A. Oh yes.

Q. Who was your table hockey mentor as a youth?
A. I have to mention two names: Lars-Erik Svensson, ("LES the Unlucky" as the main enthusiast in Umea HSS) and Lars Henriksson --- Swedish Champion 87-89.

Q. Growing up in Sweden, did you play in a league? What is the name of the league? How many players were in the league?
A. LES arranged the Umea League with tournaments once per week. We were around 10 players in average the first years. It took me about one year before I could reach the finals.

Q. Who were your table hockey heroes as a young player and who are your table hockey heroes today?
A. The best player at that time - Lars Henriksson. I guess I took his ideas and philosophies and spelled it out. Made it efficient.

A World Champion

Q. How old were you when you won your first table hockey World Championship? And who did you defeat?
A. I defeated the reigning World Champion, Mikael Kratz, in the final.

Q. How many Swedish Masters have you played in? How many have you won?
A. I don't remember. I played 88-99, 01 & 03. Three silvers and 8 gold medals.

Q. How many World Cups have you played in? How many have you won?
A. I think it's six. Champion 92 & 95. Silver 03.

Q. When you were playing in all those important Stiga tournaments, did you practice a lot? How many hours per week?
A. Until 95 I practiced at least an hour a day in average, and much, much more the weeks before a tournament.

Q. What advice do you have for table hockey players who want to get better?
A. Focus your life around table hockey. Think table hockey. Dream table hockey. Get serious. Practice and practice. Be patient. There are no shortcuts. Only hard work and even more hard work.

Q.When youíre practicing for a tournament, how do you do it? Is it practicing your passes and center fintars?
A. Everything. All moves help you to improve your touch. But concentrate on movements that you know for sure could be useful in games. I fixed the opponents players in different defending systems (including the goalie) and tried until I scored.

Q. Whatís your favorite tournament or city to play table hockey in?
A. The Swedish Masters is a classic event. There was also a major happening to win in Quebec on the Benej game. There's something special about America.

Q. When you traveled to Quebec years ago you played some Benej. Can you please tell us about that experience and your thoughts on the Benej game?
A. Benej is probably the game which is most realistic, compared to the so-called real ice hockey. When you get the right spirit in the games you can feel the puck moving.

Q. What is the most satisfying part about table hockey for you? Is it the friendships, the travel, the competition? Or something else?
A. The competitions. You need to focus on the competitions if you're aiming to become number one. But, yes. There are lot of things and pleasure around it as well.

Q. Who is your favorite table hockey opponent?
A. I like to play against skilled, players with a serious attitude, that really focus on the sport. Mikael Kratz could be the most talented, professional player ever existed. That's why I enjoyed playing against him. His tactics was well ahead of its time. It was considered monotonous.

Q. What was your most satisfying table hockey victory ever? What made it so special?
A. Probably Swedish Champion 1991. It was simply my first great victory. It's like the real life. What satisfies is to get what you do not have.

Q. What do you like about the Stiga game?
A. It's fast and intense, based on strategy. If you have a tactical advantage, you win. There's also a magic touch about it. For example, when shooting with the stick as close as possible to the ice, by lightly vertically pushing the rod, you can make the puck fly wherever you want.


Q. How did you end up in Samoa?
A. The main shareholder of the resort I'm working at, Thomas Petersson, contacted me. We made a deal.

Q. What is the weather like on Samoa?
A. Hot and almost 100 percent humidity.

Q. Does anyone play Stiga on the island?
A. No. But some of them have when Thomas arranged a Samoan Championship :)

Q. What do you do for fun in Samoa? Do you go fishing?
A. There's a lot of fun about Samoa...I hate to go fishing.

Q. Will you ever move back to Sweden?
A. Well, no one knows. I prefer staying at two places at the same time.

The future

Q. Will you be playing any other table hockey tournaments in the next year or two?
A. Hmmm... mmm.... I will have a hard time to stay away from it all.

Q. Please give us your impression on the state of international Stiga table hockey today. In the past years, the Swedes mostly dominated. Are times changing? Are there other countries producing top players these days. Is international Stiga on a upswing, downswing, does it have a good chance to grow much bigger than it is right now?

A. International Stiga is definitely on an upswing, which shows by the last international tournaments. I can not see any limitation for how popular it can become. Thanks to everyone who knows the potential.

Q.Tell us about your trip to Los Angles and Las Vegas with your teammates. How many friends are coming with you? What will you do in Los Angeles?
A. I'm going with some of my best friends. These crazy people always find reasons to get entertained, big time.

Q. What are your thoughts on the International Table Hockey Championships at the Paris Hotel Jan. 9? Any predictions?
A. Table hockey-wise, Peter Ostlund has to win. He is practicing like a maniac, dead scared to get defeated by me. It has all possibilities to become a classic event.

Q. This is being sent around the globe Jacob. Is there anything final you would like to say to the public?
A. Lucky everyone who will attend in Stiga Las Vegas. Take the opportunity to discover the pure, higher art of sports entertainment. Contact Jim Rzonca or Eric Krol.

Thank you for your time and good luck in Vegas, Jacob.