Chloe Lang is the name of the ten-year-old American actress who plays Stephanie in the next season of the TV series about LazyTown, which is currently being filmed. Chloe is a great athlete who loves to sing and dance. She is excited to see herself on screen. What is your full name and how old are you?My name is Chloe Lang and I am 10 years old. Where are you from? I live in Connecticut,...
says Magnús Scheving, the foster father of the Sports elf, and both from Borgarnes.
Although the time of the empires is largely over, the policy of conquest has not come to an end and, as before, it is not necessarily the most powerful countries that are the most powerful or successful in their struggle for expansion and domination. Most recently, it is a small Icelandic village that is preparing to conquer the world and conquer the American district itself.
What is more, is that this Icelandic village is not on the register, is not visible on the maps of the National Land Survey of Iceland as it is a fabrication and has its origins in the mind of one person, more specifically the millwright Magnús Scheving. Despite this, Latibær is no longer a small town because after repeatedly breaking through on the Icelandic market, in the form of books, plays and various events, the people of Latibær intend to follow in the footsteps of western Icelanders and study land in the United States, where their village will be called Lazytown. Latibær has signed a contract with the American film distribution company Viacom for the production of 40 TV shows that will be made in Iceland for the television station Nickelodeon, which covers about 86 million homes in the United States. Which is not so small at all.
It so happens that the creator of Latibær, Magnús Scheving, who has also from the beginning played the agile and wise Sports elf and who preaches a healthy diet and exercise, was raised in Borgarnes. In fact, the Sports elf himself should be traced to Borgarnes, as Skessuhorn’s journalist found out when he visited the members at Latibær’s town hall in Reykjavík this week. The purpose of the visit was to learn about Magnús’s childhood and upbringing in Borgarnes, as well as the ancestry of the Sports elf preparing to settle in America.
Although Magnús has, of course, been busy these days, he could free a few minutes late in the evening and they were well used because Magnús is not known for sitting silently in a corner, at least when his thoughts and passions are discussed. Those who know Magnús, actually say that he must have had a similar experience as the gaul Steinríkur who, as a child, fell into a pot with a magic potion and that Magnús must have fallen into an adrenaline pot when he was growing up. Whatever the reason, the result is that millions of children around the world are affected by Magnús’ ideals of a healthier lifestyle. The reason for this popularity is perhaps not the least, that Magnús’ message is not presented as a sermon or in a rebuke tone, but as entertainment with a positive content.
Inside Latibær’s offices, all the boxes are loaded with items that are in some way connected to the Latibær superpower, puppets in the image of the people of Latibær, Lató water, Lató shoes, Lató money and Lató this and Lató that. When the journalist had put himself in position and grabbed a pen, Magnús jumped up and picked up a batch of videotapes which contained e.g. a sample of Latibær as it appears to American children within a few months. That show was followed by a very short but comprehensive lecture by Magnús on the future plans of the Sports elf and his teammates. It did not go unnoticed that Magnús had said all this before and probably a few thousand times already, but still he was very driven and he couldn’t help but be moved, although you would think that the empathy and interest must have diminished by the fact that the idea and project is 12 years old.
Frozen on the poolside
After getting to know everything about the future, we went to the starting place, which is, as mentioned earlier, in Borgarnes. “Yes, I moved to Borgarnes when I was three years old. My father taught at Borgarnes Primary School, among other things, sports, but then he was the same sports teacher for everything, gymnastics, swimming and whatever. It was the mathematics teacher, Bjarni Bachman, who taught basketball with great empathy. I actually think that sports life in Borgarnes has never been as flourishing as then and that was of course my profit. It was all in full swing in all sports. We went to swimming lessons all the way up to Varmaland and I still remember what I was cold. A man was standing on the poolside, half-frozen, blue lips, but nothing was given up. We even had the handball team and we were just fine. There was a great sporting atmosphere at the time and there were men in the class like dad and Flemming Jessen who taught the little ones why.”
Run with the messages
When asked if this great sports spirit that hovered over Borgarfjörður at the time shaped the Sports elf in any way, Magnús says it could be true, but it’s probably Freyja on the phone who is most responsible for his shaping. “She had me running all over town with telegrams from the age of six and the sprints could go up to six kilometers back and forth. I was fast and willing, so I was often used for these tasks.
When I had to send a telegram, a call was made out of the window: ‘Maggi !’ – and then the message went from person to person until I ended up in some sort of mud puddle. It can be said that this was no less a fast-moving system than modern fiber-optic cables. Then I stood on my head in the pharmacy for licorice. I always remember the smell of licorice and sometimes I still sense it when I stand on my hands.
My friend Freyja also did something else that has come in handy, she always let me play on June 17th and I got a private lesson from her in acting. Those are the only instructions I’ve been given in that area and now I am going to play for millions of spectators” says Magnús and laughs at the thought. “It may be that Freyja saw something in the boy there, but I don’t know if she ever felt like seeing me as a good actor.” When he mentions June 17, Magnús looks a little exhausted and says that the national holiday has always been a big day for him and at the same time often difficult. “Then I ran the Víðavang’s race, often with much older boys. Then I took part in gymnastics shows and was always in the lead because I wore so little, always in embroidered white pants. These were very remarkable gymnastics shows because there 120 kg men jumped over the horse and went into a rut without feeling it. At the end of the program, I then had to take part in the play of the day and it was not uncommon for me to get nervous sometimes before June 17.”
Runner in cowboy boots
Magnús says that he likes to have enjoyed all sports and was ready to try everything. “I was never really good at anything and I was quite versatile like many of my teammates because we had a good base in all areas of sports and could really choose the sport we liked. There were many from this group who had talent. Iris Grönfeldt stands out. Björn Axelsson could also have come a long way in football and my friend Ríkharður Harðarsson would have had a future on the running track if he had ever taken off his cowboy shoes. I actually think he set the Icelandic record in sprinting in cowboy boots” says Magnus and grins.
“I think one of the biggest disappointments of my life was when I moved to Hvammstangi. I had been waiting for a sports hall in Borgarnes for many years and played in the basics in the meantime. Then when the building was finally ready we moved north and there was no sports hall. There I could do nothing but run and I did it at night. At that time, I worked in harmony with casting pipes and deviled in it almost around the clock. I also benefited from it because I think I had a higher salary than the Prime Minister in the pipeline.”
Was going to become an architect
From Hvammstangi, Magnús moved to Norway where he studied sports, but when he returned home to Iceland in his twenties, he graduated from Fjölbrauta School in Breiðholt. “Then I was going to become an architect, and things were growing, so I went into construction and taught gymnastics.” Although Magnús is today primarily known as a Sports elf and the author of Latibær, he first became nationally known and well over that for great results in aerobics.
“It was actually a coincidence because I made a bet that I could succeed in a sport in three years.” Needless to say, Magnús won the bet because he became a multiple Icelandic aerobics champion and also the Nordic champion and two-time European champion. He also finished third at the World Championships in aerobics and in 1995 and 1996 he was voted Athlete of the Year.
The beginning of Latibær
The Latibær adventure is a direct result of Magnús’ aerobics trick. “Following my success in aerobics, I was hired to give lectures on exercise and a healthy diet. Today I have given about 3,800 lectures worldwide. At these lectures, I was getting the same questions over and over again from parents who were concerned about whether their children were growing up living a healthy lifestyle. In my mind, it’s about seven elements: healthy eating, limited candy, exercise, children not being selfish, not watching too much television, not teasing each other, and not being rude. This is the basis for the characters, Siggi sæti, Hölla hrekkjusvín and all of the others. I saw that this was a far more effective and entertaining way of conveying this message than dry lectures, and that is how Latibær came to be. First came a book, then a play and then cards, sports goods, healthy food, the economy, an energy book that is coming out now and soon TV shows for American children.”
Pure and clear ideal Magnús sets up a half-hearted expression of displeasure when he is asked whether Latibær came into being as a business idea or out of a pure ideal. “Ideal only” he replies, saying firmly. “I was having fun all over the world for free and the Lató economy is free and also a national campaign that we are launching now in the beginning of October under the slogan ‘activate the energy of future generations’ which is, among other things, the publication of the energy book. It is first and foremost an ideal, that is the basis of Latibær, but of course this has become a job for me and many others. I think the main reason I’ve been through this is because the ideal is genuine. I live the concept, do not have to learn any role play or invent any lies. I mean what I say and I believe that this message is true and good and that I can do good.”
Laughed at the idea
Magnús has made no secret of the fact that from the beginning the goal was for Latibær to become an export product, despite the fact that everyone had laughed at those ideas and now, after twelve years of tireless work, that dream has come true. Asked if he had not experienced a mental drop when it was clear that the goal had been achieved. “Pray for yourself. There is no time for that. Now the process is about to begin, with three years to go.
The agreement with Viacom is based on me taking part of the risk and participating in the cost for the next three years. Then they want me to play the Sports elf even though I’m forty. I actually have not given the green light to it yet but I’m not sure I’m ready to part with the elf right away. Some may say that it is tempting at this point to relax and have a good steak and stop this frenzy and health craze, but I do not like to be idle. I’ve been running since I was a kid and I never regret it. It may be that I will not live long as a result, but I think it is more important that I have never been bored.”
But he has never gotten tired of the Sports elf and his preaches. “Not me, but of course some do. However, I never preach. I do not see it that way and people can look at all the material I have left out and I doubt they will find a single preach there. I have never pointed out that people get hamburgers or chocolate, but I explain what is healthy and wholesome. I’m not telling the kids to do this and not the other. I point out ways and try to set an example and it can be said that the only drawback is that you have to live entirely according to your own formula and thereby sacrifice various things. I never get out of the role, whether I’m out in the shop or in the hot tub in Borgarnes. No distinction is made between Magnús Scheving and the Sports elf. As I said earlier, I live the concept and that comes with pressure that I completely accepted. Of course, many people are waiting for you to stumble, but it’s just the way it is. Even if you get ten times ten points on an exam, no one talks about it, but if you fail once, that’s the main thing. I do not get tired of this pressure and it is simply because what I am doing is genuine.”
It is inevitable to end the conversation by asking Magnús if the Sports elf will ever return to Borgarnes. “You never know. I have only considered acquiring a house in Borgarnes. At least that would not be boring.” With that, Magnús is invited to another meeting to talk about his subjects, Iþróttaálfurinn, Glanna Glæpur and Halla hrekkjusvín to name a few, or Sportacus, Robbie rotten and Trixie as these characters are called when they enter an American home. It will not be long to wait until February, though the production of the episodes will begin next November.