Aarhus has put itself on the map as a top choice for international sailing contests, but there's so much more to the sports scene here. American football and basketball have taken off recently, with the Aarhus Tigers and Bakken Bears leading the charge.
"The last 20 years, there has been an explosion in interest – from sponsors, spectators and media." Michael Piloz is understandably proud of how his home-grown basketball team, the Bakken Bears, have reignited local interest in the sport.
His enthusiasm is echoed by Brian Woodward of the Aarhus Tigers, whose team is enjoying a similar resurgence: "American Football has been one of the fastest growing sports in Denmark in recent years, bolstered by the fact that NFL games are now shown on Danish TV each Sunday." The city has become a breeding ground for elite sports teams – so what is it about Aarhus that promotes such athleticism?
The Bears won the first ever national championship in 1958, but according to Michael, "it was not until the mid-1990s that the club became a significant factor in Danish basketball." Today, they're a major presence, with a packed schedule that involves traveling all around the country.
"Even though our home court is Vejlby-Risskov Hallen, we play several home games in other arenas...we move games to make extra noise around our sport, in order to develop the interest of basketball."
The team balances new and experienced members, with predominantly homegrown players: "Even though our imports are an important piece to the puzzle, our core of veteran Danish players are decisive for our title chances." In between championships, the team hosts regular charity events like "the Bakken Bears Teddy Bear Toss...the teddy bears are given to Børnenes Kontor, an organization that help families with lack of funds for Christmas."
The secret to the Tigers' success might be the weather, as Brian explains, "The Danish summer is hard to beat, with long, sunny days and warm evenings. We think American football is the best sport on grass in the summer – and we welcome both spectators or anyone who would like to come out and give it a try."
There are now 39 clubs in Denmark, but while most compete as amateurs, the Tigers play in the National League and are "the only Danish club to have won a European Championship."
Although the league is heavily influenced by America's NFL, you won't find a Super Bowl here – it's The Mermaid Bowl. Brian explains that the name comes "from Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, which has become a national symbol of Denmark."
City of sports
As Michael says, "Aarhus offers it all – the sea, forests, great city center, biking tracks", so you can fit in both spectating and participating during a stay at our Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Aarhus.
Even cold weather doesn't slow things down, as Brian explains, "the winters are all about indoor sports; team handball, ice hockey and basketball are popular, and Aarhus has professional teams in all three sports."
If you're on a fitness kick of your own, Brian recommends "Marselisborg Woods, Risskov Woods and Aarhus Harbor... for hiking, biking and watersports. Nearby Gudenå river and the city of Silkeborg also offer possibilities for fishing, kayaking and camping."