BEIJING – They’re doing it again.
Norway, with a population of just 5 million, is making a win every four years over the rest of the world.
It may not surpass the historic 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, when Norway won 39 medals8 more than its closest competitor, Germany, which has 16 times as many people.
But it’s close.
Three more days, Norwegians lead with 34 medals, seven ahead of Russia (population 144 million) and, with 15 gold medals, lead Germany (population 83 million) by five.
“We have a strong team,” said Kjetil Jansrud, champion Alpine skier. “We’ve always been like that.”
More than strong. Norway is now so successful, it has become a beacon of winter sports. American skiers, both Alpine and cross-country, have been training with Norwegian athletes on the same mountains and glaciers for many years. Every year, the country brings 150 of the top international junior cross-country skiers to camp to learn technique and train with the sport’s top coaches. Norway has partnered with the UK to develop and share wax technology for Nordic skiing.
However, over the past four years, a number of countries have sent their top sports leaders to study the country’s methods – well, the ones their experts will share – highlights the latest step in Norway’s elite winter sports hospitality.
Luke Bodensteiner, athletic director of the American Ski and Snowboard Association, the national governing body for skiing.
And so, that spring, Bodensteiner and top executives visited their competitor.
It may sound strange for Norway to provide guidance to competitors, but they want to win, they also want to make sure these sports thrive and that will only happen if the competition is tough. .
Bodensteiner and his team left Norway after a week when it was certain that any country could build a Norwegian winter sports machine. It will all take 30 years and a complete overhaul of the youth athlete development systems in many countries.
He also has the surreptitious suspicion that Norway is keeping the most valuable information to itself, just as it has in the past.
For example, Norway is ahead of its competitors in developing the most aerodynamic suits for skiing. It pioneered the use of GPS sensors to help Alpine skiers find the fastest way down the mountain. Its cross-country skis are reliably the fastest, the result of endless testing and retesting.
While the rest of the world trains Alpine skiers as sprinters, focusing on building booms, Norwegian coaches and trainers discovered that Alpine racing is like running 3,000 meters. So Alpine skiers started training like distance runners, bikers, and doing innovative aerobic training circuits in the gym.
Research is now beginning to succeed in summer sports. In Tokyo, Norway’s men won gold medals in the 400 meters hurdles and 1,500.
For Norway, things changed after the 1988 Calgary Olympics, where they won only 5 medals, none of which were gold, an unacceptable result for Norway. a country where kids start skiing and hiking at the same age.
The country, which had rapidly transformed from a middle-class economy built around fishing and agriculture into an oil-rich one, began pouring money into Olympiatoppen, the organization that oversees elite sports Olympic medal.
It also redoubles its commitment in the document Children’s Rights in Sport, ensuring and encouraging every child in the country access to high-quality opportunities in athletics, with a focus on participation and socialization. socialization rather than tough competition.
Norway’s well-funded local sports clubs, which exist in most neighborhoods and villages, don’t organize championships until children are 13 years old.
Its largest national skiing event, the Holmenkollen Ski Festival, began in 1892, consisting of a race for elite but not young adult skiers. Children take the course when they want and there is no formal time for them. Coaches, both professionals and parent volunteers, must undergo formal training.
“It seems like more emphasis needs to be on being inclusive of everyone,” said Atle McGrath, a 21-year-old Norwegian Alpine skier whose father is Felix, who competed in Alpine for the United States at the World 1988 Olympics said. “Whether you’re really good at it or not, everyone has the same experience.”
Jim Stray-Gundersen, a former surgeon and physiologist and sports science advisor to the American Ski and Snowboard Association, has lived in Norway, where his father grew up, for five years while working. Work as a scientist with Norwegian Olympic athletes. He said the country’s priority was to build a culture of health and regular exercise, and that the country’s competitive strength stems from that.
“That’s how you create psychological satisfaction, healthy lifestyle habits and great athletes over time, and it’s very much the opposite of how we do and don’t do it in America,” he said.
Young people who do not show particular talent still participate, and some of them blossom as teenagers, long after children in more competitive countries may have switched to playing the cello. McGrath didn’t excel until the age of 17.
Norwegians also tend to enjoy outdoor living and activities, both during the summer months when the sun shines near 10 p.m. and the long, cold winters.
Felix McGrath, who grew up in Vermont, said his son first showed an interest in the sport when he was 8 or 9 years old and would spend hours doing homemade ski jumps in the yard. before, although he continued to play football and baseball. and cross-country skiing.
At the age of 14, he got serious about Alpine skiing, but people hardly noticed his results at the races until he was at least 16 years old and attended a special public school for the young. aspiring skier.
McGrath said: “Atle always played pretty well but he never won continuously. “He’s the type of guy who always hangs behind the best kids and is always showing off, working hard and getting better and better.”
Atle McGrath didn’t win a medal in this Olympics, but he did show some Norwegian spirit. On Wednesday, he slipped through a gate on his second slalom run and came to a stop. But instead of slipping off the track, he took two steps up the hill, returned to the gate, and continued downhill. He finished 12 seconds behind the leader. He raised his arm in victory.
After all, that’s what the Norwegians do at the Olympics.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/sports/its-norways-games-again-whats-the-secret.html It’s the Norwegian game again. What is secret?