Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
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Kat
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Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
Quote:How Norway Scores So Much Olympic Gold Gets
The Most Successful Country in the Winter Olympics Draws Many of its Medalists From One Place

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Quote:In all, Trøndelag natives have produced more than a fifth of Norway's medals over the history of the Winter Games—even though the region accounts for only 8% of the country's total population. At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, they contributed to eight of the country's nine gold medals.

"How is it possible that an area of about 400,000 people can be responsible for eight out of nine gold medals?" said Stig Arve Sæther, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Norway itself is a Winter Olympics marvel: With only five million people, it has won 303 Winter Olympic medals, far more than any other country on the planet. To find a country smaller than world-leading Norway on the all-time Winter Olympics medal table, you have to travel down to Croatia, which ranks 24th with 11 medals.

And this month, Norway is fielding one of its strongest teams in almost two generations, with some experts considering it the favorite to win both the highest gold and total medal count, a feat that it last achieved in 1968.

Other countries long ago took to shrugging off Norway's Winter Olympics medal haul as the unsurprising inheritance of a people whose young are born with skis on their feet, as an old Nordic adage goes. But skiing is also fundamental to the culture of other Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, which has about twice the population but, with 132 total, not even half the medals.

Instead, many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.

"We have an unusually open and inclusive environment when it comes to children's' sports," says Inge Andersen, General Secretary of the Norwegian Sports Federation and Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Sports, meanwhile, continues to take a back seat to education in the country. Although Norway has government-run sports schools, admissions is based on stiff academic standards, not athletic ability.

"General education has to come first. Sports second," said Kjell Lundemo, the principal of Meråker, a government-run sports school with the same name as the town.

To some degree, Norway's dominance isn't surprising. Although its athletes generally don't get huge endorsement dollars, they do benefit from the largess of the country's main organization for elite Olympic sports, which has a relatively large annual budget of $23 million.

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[Image: P1-BP041_NORGOL_NS_20140207175709.jpg]
2014 Feb 08 18:09
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RE: Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
Quote:Instead, many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.

This sounds like your typical Scando-egalitarian gobbledygook. Tongue

If this is the case for all of Norway, why is Tröndelag so special?

Anyway, I think the Norwegian state has more funds (than e.g. Sweden or Finland) available for sports and that's a significant factor. Another is that the Norwegians have some secret doping formula that means their skiers don't get caught. Big Grin

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2014 Feb 08 18:25
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RE: Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
If Trøndelag tends to be more of an insular community or district of Norway, then I would attribute these results to its people having great genes as opposed to anything having to do with how one is socialised with respect to sport and competition.

Or maybe it's just something in the water. Big Grin

This tendency that "everyone is a winner" in young amateur sport is very much a global thing these days: we have that crap here too. It's infiltrated football (soccer) associations. I'm not sure if it's infiltrated ice hockey leagues here yet but I wouldn't be surprised. It's rather quite pathetic. That kind of an approach doesn't teach any child anything about the real world and horribly it sets a child up for not knowing how to deal with failures and setbacks that we all must overcome in life.


Anyway, there's no denying Norway being a powerhouse. And good on them.

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2014 Feb 08 18:45
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RE: Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
The main reason is that winter sports are traditional sports for the whole country and even the poor can participate. Training facilities are top notch in Norway and they don't have to desperately seek for a new sponsor each and every year to keep their sport clubs going.

In Germany on the other hand winter sports are restricted to the very affluent minorities even in winter sport regions, comparable to golf, yachting and polo.


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2014 Feb 08 22:20
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RE: Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
(2014 Feb 08 22:20)Phlegethon Wrote:  The main reason is that winter sports are traditional sports for the whole country and even the poor can participate. Training facilities are top notch in Norway and don't have to desperately seek for a new sponsor each and every year to keep their sport clubs going.

In Germany on the other hand winter sports are restricted to the very affluent minorities even in winter sport regions, comparable to golf, yachting and polo.


Just recreational winter sports you mean or competitive winter sports? Because playing anything competitively, especially at an elite level, will always be expensive, even just running with a pair of Nikes on.

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2014 Feb 08 22:55
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RE: Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
Skiing is one of the most expensive sports in a country with hardly any snow at all except in a few extremely expensive mountain resorts. It is like everyone in the U.S. had to ski in Aspen or Vail. While skiing is becoming more and more expensive golf seems to be getting cheaper. Most clubs no longer ask for a 50,000 Euro admission fee and three sponsor. They are down to about 20,000 Euros and one sponsor.


Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2014 Feb 08 23:04
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RE: Why Norway Owns the Winter Games
(2014 Feb 08 18:25)Mustapaita Wrote:  
Quote:Instead, many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.

This sounds like your typical Scando-egalitarian gobbledygook. Tongue

Well, we are after all taking about a Scandinavian country. ;) But these kids seem to grow up to be tough sportsmen in spite of all these attempts being made to spoil them.

Quote:If this is the case for all of Norway, why is Tröndelag so special?

Tröndelag is a region still dominated by farming and logging. Lonely endurance sports like cross-country skiing probably suit these people better than those who e.g. come from the more urbanised Southern Norway.
2014 Feb 09 19:25
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