In Norway, Bergans was awesome to offer a tour of their facilities. While there, I was given insight into Norway’s biggest outdoor brand. For instance, did you know that the logo is an 1869 painting of the Birkebeiners who rescued baby King Haakon, who later went on to become the first King to unite the entire country? Now you do.
After that and an amusing attempt on my part to pronounce Norwegian words, we progressed to an overview of Norwegian culture. As an active member of Outdoor Nation, a nonprofit that is trying to rekindle the connection between youth and the outdoors in America, I was very curious as to how Norway’s outdoor lifestyle became so ingrained.
Were there government incentives at some point in history? Was it a part of school curriculum? Whatever it was, at least one out of three people/families in the train station had cross-country, skiing, hiking, or sledding gear with them, obviously taking outdoor trips into the mountains. Jon(Left pic), my insightful Bergans guide insisted that it wasn’t any of those. It is the philosophy of excellence that creates the outdoor lifestyle.
Take the kids soccer team in the US. If you are a regular American coach, you want to win. If you win, it is fun. So, you play your three or four good players a lot and bench many of the other kids, but you win. If that team were in Norway, the coach would try to play everyone equally so the whole level of the team improved. The goal is for everyone to reach their potential, not to win off of one or two players natural talent.
That philosophy transfers into everyday activity where a person would rather go on an afternoon hike then hit the elliptical for a 30 min. fat blast. Cross-country skiing is ten times more popular than skate skiing because it is more social and enjoyable to go on a few hour tour than a half-hour ass kicking skate. With 10% of the population members of the national outdoor club, DNT, Norway is one of the healthiest countries in the world.
Winning is a fleeting moment of glory, Jon reminded me, but consistent excellence is an achievement that you can enjoy forever. Luck on race day is not a big part of Norwegian culture.