6 Reasons to Root for Norway at the Olympics (When the U.S. Is Out of Contention)

UPDATED 02/10/2014 at 07:45 PM EST Originally published 02/10/2014 at 02:00 PM EST

Winter Olympics 2014: 6 Reasons Why You Should Root for Norway at Sochi
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway carries the national flag as he leads the team during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 7, 2014
Mark Humphrey/AP
The Winter Olympics are in full swing, and you may be looking for another nation to root for when the U.S. is falling short of the gold (or bronze).

May we suggest Norway?

The five million strong Scandinavian nation has thrilled Olympic fans for decades with its quirky, fun-loving style, and the Norwegian love train shows no sign of halting in Sochi. Below, six reasons why you should root for the other red, white and blue these Olympic games.

They're Winners Who Feel Like Underdogs

6 Reasons to Root for Norway at the Olympics (When the U.S. Is Out of Contention)| Winter Olympics 2014

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway poses during the medal ceremony for the men's biathlon 10km sprint on Feb. 9, 2014

Eric Gaillard / Reuters / Landov

Did you know that, despite being the least populous of all the Scandinavian countries, Norway is the all-time leader in Winter Olympic medals? No, you didn't, because the Norwegians excel at all the unsexy sports that don't get picked up on the mainstream media radar, like cross-country skiing and biathlon. You can root for Norway and feel like you're ahead of the curve, while also resting secure in the knowledge that they'll probably win.

Their Curling Team Wears Amazing Uniforms

6 Reasons to Root for Norway at the Olympics (When the U.S. Is Out of Contention)| Winter Olympics 2014

Members of Norway's Men's Olympic Curling Team wear their new Sochi 2014 suits

Cassie Kovacevich / Loudmouth Golf / AP

When they're not turning their country's flag into stylish trousers, the Norwegian curling team can be seen sporting colorful jumpsuits, as well as the Winter Olympics equivalent of pajama pants. They deserve a gold medal in fashion sense, for sure.

A Norwegian Snowboarder Gave Himself an Impromptu Mohawk at the Medal Podium

6 Reasons to Root for Norway at the Olympics (When the U.S. Is Out of Contention)| Winter Olympics 2014

Silver medalist Staale Sandbech of Norway celebrates during the medal ceremony for the men's slopestyle event on Feb. 8, 2014

Quinn Rooney / Getty

When Staale Sandbech won the silver medal in the men's slopestyle event, he did so with flowing, surfer-dude locks. When it came time to accept the silver medal, he had a different look entirely.



In Fact, the Whole Team's Got Amazing Style

6 Reasons to Root for Norway at the Olympics (When the U.S. Is Out of Contention)| Winter Olympics 2014

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway carries the national flag as he leads the team during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 7, 2014

Mark Humphrey / AP

No Ralph Lauren sweaters here – the Norwegian squad walked the opening ceremony in understated outdoor attire, topped off with stylish flat caps you'll soon see all over Brooklyn.

They're Kind of Sexy, Too

6 Reasons to Root for Norway at the Olympics (When the U.S. Is Out of Contention)| Winter Olympics 2014

Snowboarder Silje Norendal (left) and skier Aksel Lund Svindal, both of Norway

Julie Jacobson / AP; Francis Bompard / Agence Zoom / Getty

Is it shallow to root for an athlete because you think they're hot? Probably. Is it wrong? Definitely not.

They Disprove Those Stories About Participation Medals Being a Bad Thing

6 Reasons to Root for Norway at the Olympics (When the U.S. Is Out of Contention)| Winter Olympics 2014

Norwegian fans enjoy the atmosphere during the alpine skiing men's downhill event on Feb. 9, 2014

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty

So why has Norway won all those medals? The Wall Street Journal credits a nationwide "everyone's a winner" mentality.

"Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports," the Journal reports. "Before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize."

Combine this with a culture that emphasizes the simple pleasures of being outside in the winter (as well as, it must be said, the governmental largesse that comes from having lots of oil) and you get a country that's extraordinarily successful at the Olympics but remains eminently cheerable.

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