Storhamar ready for maiden showdown
This is the third article in our countdown series ahead of the EHF Champions League Women 2022/23 season. The series previews each of the 16 clubs in the group phase before the competition begins in September.
Norwegian handball has been on the up on the club level in the past decade, with Vipers Kristiansand winning back-to-back titles in the past two seasons — and enabling other teams from the Scandinavian nation to dream big.
One of those teams is Storhamar Handball Elite, who will make their debut in the premium European competition this season after finishing second in the Norwegian Eliteserien over the past four seasons.
- Storhamar are the only side who will make their debut in the EHF Champions League Women this season
- coach Kenneth Gabrielsen enters his second season as Storhamar’s coach, after having previously led Glassverket and Vipers Kristiansand
- Storhamar lost their top scorer from last season, Emilie Hovden, as the right wing moved to Viborg HK — the finalists in last season’s EHF European League Women
- the Norwegian side were the runners-up in the domestic league the last four years in a row and also reached the quarter-finals of the second-tier European competition twice in the past four seasons
- Storhamar are the seventh Norwegian team to ever play in the EHF Champions League Women, with two of them – Larvik HK and Vipers Kristiansand – winning the trophy
Most important question: Will lack of experience at the highest level deter Storhamar?
After three editions played in the second-tier European competition, where they reached the quarter-finals twice — in the 2018/19 and the 2021/22 seasons — Storhamar Handball Elite are ready to make the big step to the EHF Champions League Women.
Norway will have two teams to the competition for the first time since the 2017/18 season, as Vipers Kristiansand’s amazing title-winning performances in the past two seasons have surely galvanised Norwegian handball.
Unlike Vipers, who have boasted a roster full of players with the highest level of experience, Storhamar are untested at this level and will surely learn a thing or two in the first matches. After good performances in the EHF European League Women, where they played a free-flowing style of handball, emphasis must also be put on defence, as attack-centred matches are hard to win in the top tier.
Losing right wing Emilie Hovden, who signed for Viborg HK this summer, will be a huge blow for Storhamar, as the Norwegian player was their top scorer both in the domestic league and in the EHF European League Women last season.
With mostly Norwegian along with three Swedish players, expect Storhamar to bring the same Scandinavian vibe to the table.
Under the spotlight: Anniken Obaidli
The 27-year-old centre back was once earmarked as the future for Norwegian handball, after securing two bronze medals, first at the W17 EHF EURO 2011 and then at the 2012 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, as an integral part of Norway’s team that secured those performances. Elected as the fan favourite in the 2019/20 season in the first Norwegian league, she also donned the national team shirt seven times, but really kickstarted her career in 2021, when she moved from Molde to Storhamar.
Obaidli is the fulcrum of Storhamar’s attack, an interesting centre back with a penchant for scoring, which was also on display last season in the EHF European League Women. With 48 goals, she was her side’s second-top scorer in the competition and the 15th overall, while also adding 137 goals in the Norwegian Eliteserien — enough for the eighth place overall in that competition. If Obaidli brings good form to the EHF Champions League Women, Storhamar will also be one of the teams to watch.
How they rate themselves
They know their status as rookies in the competition, but Storhamar’s ambitions are surely high, as no team enters the EHF Champions League Women with the thought of just limiting the score line for losses. While the lack of experience will surely impact Storhamar’s results, the Norwegian side are optimistic before the start of the competition.
“The start is good for us, but facing Metz Handball in an away game to throw off our season is very tough. We can take points at home against Lokomotiva Zagreb, also against Kastamonu, while the other games against Györ and Esbjerg will surely also be tough. We hope to have some fans present in Denmark, against Esbjerg — that could really help us,” said Storhamar’s general manager, Kamilla Sundmoen.
What the numbers say
Storhamar are the seventh team from Norway to play in the EHF Champions League Women, after Byasen EH, Larvik HK, Vipers Kristiansand, Baekkelagets Oslo, Nordstrand 2000 Oslo and Tertnes Bergen. Norwegian teams have won the competition three times (Larvik HK in 2010/11 and Vipers Kristiansand in the 2020/21 and the 2021/22 seasons).
Did you know?
Storhamar have played 54 matches in European competitions: the EHF European League, EHF Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup. They have won only 22 of those games — a 40 per cent win rate — before making their debut in the premium European competition.
Arrivals and departures
Arrivals: Line Ellertsen (Aarhus United), Tina Abdulla (BV Borussia 09 Dortmund), Olivia Lofqvist (Lugi HF), Anna Klausen Jacobsen (Flint Tonsberg)
Departures: Emilie Hovden (Viborg HK), Lone Sandvik (unknown), Andrea Holmsveen Moen (Flint Tonsberg), Sara Ronningen (Thuringer HC), Cassandra Tollbring (H65 Hoor), Jeanett Kristiansen (retired), Betina Riegelhuth (retired)
EHF Champions League
Participations (including 2022/23 season): 1
EHF European League Women:
Quarter-finals (1): 2021/22
Group phase (1): 2020/21
Quarter-finals (1): 2018/19
Group phase (1): 2019/20
Cup Winners’ Cup:
Quarter-finals (1): 2009/10