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Blood, sweat and cheers
Football may be the largest sport in Norway, but when it comes to the Norwegian national identity, nothing can match our enthusiasm for winter sports.
Arctic Race of Norway riders crossing the Sortlandsbrua bridge in Vesterålen, Northern Norway
Arctic Race of Norway over Sortlandsbrua.
Photo: Arctic Race of Norway

If you mention the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer to a Norwegian, chances are he or she will close her eyes and smile sheepishly while reminiscing about the great event. Several of the Olympic arenas are still in use today (so are, to a lesser degree, those from the Oslo Olympics in ‘52).

There are strong traditions for cross-country skiing in Norway. Indeed, it has its roots here – and the sport is one of the few in which we can truly boast of being one of the best nations in the world. Ski jumping, biathlon and alpine will regularly attract large crowds as well, at least the international competitions.

The Holmenkollen ski jump, visible from miles away as it towers over Oslo, is one of the most visited attractions in Norway and hosts a World Cup event every winter. At Holmenkollen, you will also find the world's oldest museum specialized in skiing.

Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo
Holmenkollen, Oslo.
Photo: Saxrud Johansen / VisitOSLO

If you’re a football fan (with an acquired taste), you could visit one of the many stadiums in Norway, and feel the atmosphere. Rosenborg BK in Trondheim is the most successful team in the past few decades, while Vålerenga is the most popular club in Oslo. Brann in Bergen also has a loud and very enthusiastic following.

Ice hockey, motorsports, handball and athletics are other popular sports among Norwegian spectators. In regards to the latter, the traditional Bislett Games – an IAAF Diamond League event – is held in Oslo every summer.

You can also enjoy several yearly bike races, like the Arctic Race of Norway where some of the best pro cyclists in the world compete, surrounded by stunning Norwegian nature.

Five facts about Norwegian sports

1. In 2017, was Norway ranked the world’s greatest sporting nation (per capita) by the website Greatest Sporting Nation (GSN).

2. Football is the largest sport in Norway, with around 480,000 active players, according to the Football Association of Norway (NFF).

3. Norway was the most successful nation at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Norway won 39 medals, which is a winter Olympic record.

4. Norway has been host country for the Olympic Games twice: In Oslo (1952) and Lillehammer (1994).

5. In recent years, chess has become a highly popular sport in Norway. Many tournaments are broadcasted on national television. The world's best chess player, Magnus Carlsen, deserves a lot of credit for the great chess interest.

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