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How Elin Nordegren Woods, known by one name in her native land, epitomizes the Swedish character.
Nordegren was Rimer's model once, in 1999 when she was 20. He saw a picture of her on the internet and asked if she would be willing to be photographed. She ended up as the swimsuit cover girl of the Swedish men's fashion magazine, Cafe Sports.
"I called her and asked if I could shoot some pictures. She was not very positive, but she said yes, primarily to get some pictures for private use," Rimer said. "Elin is a fantastic girl: beautiful, smart, humble and very down to earth. Not a girl you can fool. She is smart and knows what she wants.”
Gender equality is important in Sweden, and many laws have been enacted to maintain women's independence. Housewives are rare and considered old-fashioned. When moving to Florida, Nordegren continued her studies toward a degree in child psychology in Orlando. She speaks only Swedish to her and Woods’ two children: Sam Alexis, born June 18, 2007, and Charlie Axel, born Feb. 8, 2009.
Elin’s father, Thomas Nordegren, 56, works as a host for Swedish Radio in Stockholm and worked in Washington from 2003 to 2007. He has always been protective of his daughter.
“The enormous publicity surrounding Tiger Woods is not uncomplicated," he told Aftonbladet. "But Elin is a very strong and independent girl who stands with both feet on the ground. I have taught my children to be independent and to decide over their own lives.”
Nordegren has a twin sister, Josefin, who works as a lawyer in London. When Josefin married Swedish engineer Daniel Loennborg this summer, Elin Nordegren attended the wedding and little Sam Alexis was the page. The twins’ brother, Axel Nordegren, 31, works at a bank in China and has studied Mandarin at the Shanghai Theatre Academy.
When Sweden’s leading tabloid ran the initial stories on Nov. 26 about Tiger Woods’ infidelity — headlined "Tiger cheated" — Swedish reaction was strong. A survey revealed that 82 percent of the Swedes thought the story should not have been published. That was one day before the 33-year-old golfer crashed his Cadillac SUV outside the couple’s Florida mansion and the tabloid storm engulfed Elin Nordegren.
Now Sweden’s top television channels, newspapers, sports magazines and radio are covering the scandal, while public relations experts are offering advice on how the couple should defuse it on primetime TV. It all must make her native land seem unfamiliar to the quintessential Swede.