Norway is a relatively small country, with only 5 million people, but they are dominating at this years winter Olympics. Currently, they hold 39 medals, placing them safely in first, followed by Germany who has 31 medals.
Their success is somewhat expected, and has many contributing factors that contribute to their success despite their small size. First, Norway has established a high quality of life for their people, as the Olympic Committee director Tore Ovrebo has pointed out, this means citizens are “not struggling for their lives, so they’re quite free and quite educated and have a good health state. That means many of the youth are actually in a position where they can choose sports.” While Ovrebo says that this is not to put down any other nation, it does bring to light the unforgettable truth of how strong health and positive lives impact a nation’s citizens: a higher opportunity for involvement and competition means a larger and better pool of athletes from which Olympians are selected. Furthermore, Norway is a country built for winter sports with access to a plethora of mountains, ubiquitous ski resorts, and a perfect temperature for the development of winter sports.
These are not the only reasons that Norway is excelling in the winter Olympic games; their success is also a byproduct of their positive and collectivist attitude. Norway goes to the games “want(ing) to succeed in (three things): Fun, friendships and medals.” Travelling as a tight-knit group, they aim to be strengthened by their experience as a team regardless of the outcome, Ovrebo says.
This attitude even permeates the way in which citizens raise their children, as they don’t keep score until they are 13. Ovrebo reports that “(Norwegians) think it’s better to be a child in this way because then they can concentrate on having fun and be with their friends and develop. We think the biggest motivation for the kids to do sports that they do it with their friends and they have fun while they’re doing it and we want to keep that feeling throughout their whole career.” Norway’s secret to success is their development through positivity. This is an attitude that is very different from countries like the United States, who are currently pushing for harsher sports and a limit on the amount of ‘undue’ praise that their children receive, as shown by the fact that New England Patriot James Harrison was praised for taking away his sons’ participation trophies.
Overall Norway encourages more children to remain vested in sports. This philosophy is integral to the Olympic games, as it prevents children from leaving their respective sport, and facilitates their development as youth without the pressure of failure. This creates a “very broad recruiting base,” which Ovrebo attributes to their system of not making kids keep score. Ultimately, as Norway meets their personal best and crushes their competition with a smile on their face, other countries are faced with the question of whether they should adopt a similar strategy to bolster their chances of success at the Olympic games.