Norway… With only five million people, it has won 303 Winter Olympic medals, far more than any other country on the planet.
…many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.
Norway’s cities are relatively close to the wilderness, and children are encouraged to play outdoors even on the coldest days.
Neighboring Sweden, by contrast, has its major population centers farther from the wilderness, and the Swedes are more inclined to play indoor sports in the winter, such as tennis or hockey, rather than bundle up and go skiing.
Norway remains a largely agrarian society that places a large premium on being outside. A Norwegian concept called friluftsliv—enjoying outdoor life—has been studied in books and represents whole areas of study at universities.
How Norway Scores So Much Olympic Gold – An interesting article from The Wall Street Journal, which gives an insight into the Norwegian culture and approach that shapes it’s phenomenal success in winter sports