Norway won 39 medals at the PyeongChang Olympics, more than any other country: 14 gold, 14 silver, 11 bronze. In fact, they set a new record for the most medals won at a Winter Games. Norway's medal count was followed by Germany, Canada, and the United States. Consider also that Norway only sent 109 athletes to South Korea, while the US sent 242. The Norwegians are proud but also trying to remain humble with their success. Tore Ovrebo, the director of elite sports with Norway's Olympic program, was asked what made the Norwegian athletes so special.
Ovrebo went out of his way to explain he didn’t want to come across as giving anyone, lest the United States, any advice. “I am not a tiny gorilla beating my chest telling you what to do because it’s not my position,” he says. “We do it this way, others do it another way.” He also admits Norway is blessed with many advantages for Winter Olympics dominance, like snow, a history of excellence in sports like biathlon and cross-country skiing, and free health care, which helps keep young athletic talent in good shape.
But a distinctly Norweigan rule for their youth sports may strike a particular chord with many Americans. (This one included: I’m a youth sports parent, and wrote a TIME cover story on the booming kid sports industry last summer).
Ovrebo says that in Norway, organized youth sports teams cannot keep score until they are 13. “We want to leave the kids alone,” says Ovrebo. “We want them to play. We want them to develop, and be focused on social skills. They learn a lot from sports. They learn a lot from playing. They learn a lot from not being anxious. They learn a lot from not being counted. They learn a lot from not being judged. And they feel better. And they tend to stay on for longer.”