First couple of Iceland not ready to go home from 2016 Euro
PARIS -- Since her partner, Aron Gunnarsson, is the captain of the Iceland team, the darling underdogs of the 2016 Euros, that sort of makes Kris Jonasdottir the first lady of the darling underdogs. She acts the part: funny, smart and, as evidenced by the pictures of her that melt the internet, abs you could crack an egg on. Speaking of eggs, just now she was ordering an omelet, which wasn't on the menu, and instead of eye rolls and grumbles from the French waiter, the person simply left and came back with an omelet. That's the best way to describe her.
She can make a French waiter act nice.
The omelet provided a welcome break; finally: something other than carbs for breakfast. A month in France is great for Americans who don't mind mainlining bearnaise, but for a former competitive fitness athlete -- and still a ripped workout junkie and personal trainer -- she's living one endless cheat day.
"It is mostly bread and cream," she said, laughing.
She was eating with two of her girlfriends. The three of them, all wearing Iceland jerseys, looked like a walking tourism poster for the island, the smallest country competing in the Euros, playing England on Monday in the knockout round.
Her jersey was real, the one Aron wore in his last game.
She accepted the gift -- unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, who refused to make eye contact with Gunnarsson after Portugal drew against Iceland. Aron wanted to trade shirts with the opposing captain. His teammates have been making fun of him about it ever since, getting left hanging on international television, his inner fan boy exposed. Ronaldo, Kris says, is one of Aron's favorite players.
That's the beauty of the expanded tournament, creating interactions like that one, although Iceland's success is rooted in the team's unwillingness to be just tourists. In the opening minutes of that game, Gunnarsson knocked Ronaldo to the ground. Then he stood over him, letting the superstar know that despite the huge gulf in their income and fame and even talent, the Iceland team and its captain had come to this tournament to fight.
Gunnarsson and his teammates are living in a kind of dream world, with an entire hotel in the lakeside town of Annecy reserved just for them, and a waiting staff to cater to their every whim. The 1930s palace looks out on the blue waters of the lake and at the mountains, with a walking path through the forest to the old heart of town. The superstars who play for the bigger teams are used to this kind of pampering -- or even feel entitled to it -- but Iceland's players are just floating. The police escort blows their minds.
"It's crazy," Jonasdottir said. "It's so new for them."
One of her friends said there aren't any cars on the streets of Iceland when the team plays. The numbers back that up. The television ratings for the second game, against Austria, don't even seem real: Ninety-nine percent of the country watched the game. It has been estimated that 8 percent of the island's entire population is in France.
The players feel buoyed by that support.
"They just have an amazing story," said Jonasdottir, who goes by Kris J in fitness and bodybuilding competitions. "They're all a similar age. They came up together. They used to play in the under-21 team and now they've done this together. They are really close. They're all good friends. It's so cool. They talk every day on WhatsApp."
She hasn't seen much of Aron since the tournament began, since the team is locked down in their hotel.
"We were allowed to spend one night with them," she said, "after the second game."
She laughed at a joke about how the entire team probably stayed in their rooms that night.
"Everybody," she said with a smile.
They have a 14-month old son -- she has his picture on the back of her phone -- and she's not sure she will return to the competitive world of fitness. She feels good right now and is focusing on her personal training. The videos of her leading workouts are a bit terrifying; she is the trainer who will call you if you skip a session.
Back at home, her mom has their son, and one day she can tell him about the summer many years ago when his father was a folk hero. For at least one more day, the improbable journey continues, and she's nervously waiting out the hours before the game. That's what she was doing a week ago, having breakfast the morning before Iceland played its last group stage game.
She had her black Chanel purse with her.
"Poor Aron," she said, laughing. "I'm just shopping for bags. What's wrong with me?"
She laughed again, making fun of herself, nodding at the Chanel.
"It's a much-deserved bag," she says.
A senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, Wright Thompson is a native of Clarksdale, Mississippi.