Little Norway is making a name for itself in the big world!

I love hearing news of Norway’s influence, or Scandinavia’s in general, out in the big world, especially in the U.S. and when it gets close to home here in Los Angeles. The winter Olympics is always a fun time to be Norwegian. Lately, though, Norway is making a name for itself in other areas as well. Whether it’s film, podcasts, books, music, or sports (besides skiing), there’s something for every Scandinavian enthusiast right now. Here’s a round-up of various Norwegian “sightings” outside of Norway and Scandinavia. How many are you already familiar with?

Film

Right now Angelenos can see The 12th Man, a film about Norwegian history by Norwegian director Harald Zwart. It has a limited engagement at Arena Cinelounge in Hollywood (released in the U.S. on May 4). It is a World War II-set thriller based on the true story of Jan Baalsrud, a Norwegian resistance fighter who was the only one of his 12-member group to escape the Nazis when their sabotage mission failed. The movie follows him as he tries to make his way to neutral Sweden through the Arctic landscape. The Los Angeles Times writes, “World War II-set Norwegian thriller ‘The 12th Man’ has the right stuff.” Catch it before it moves on… There’s even a book, Defiant Courage: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by Astrid Karlsen Scott and Dr. Tore Haug, for those who are particularly curious about Jan Baalsrud’s experience.

Another movie to feature Norway is soon-to-be-released Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Norway’s iconic mountain plateau Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) in Western Norway is where Tom Cruise does a spectacular stunt. The movie opens in the U.S. on July 27. View the official trailer with a glimpse of the scene at Preikestolen. A hike to the top of Preikestolen is actually on my Norway bucket list so I’ll be eager to see this movie.

Netflix Series

The Rain isn’t a Norwegian creation but rather a Danish one. It’s a brand new original 8-episode Netflix series that was released May 4. It’s about two siblings who, six years after a brutal virus wipes out most of Scandinavia’s population, join a band of young survivors seeking safety and answers.

And just in case you aren’t aware, there’s a relatively new Norwegian series currently available on Netflix as well. Borderliner, released March 6, is about a police detective who covers up a murder case to protect his family, but then his partner suspects foul play. Newsweek writes, “New Netflix series ‘Borderliner’ is the perfect Scandinavian noir gateway drug.

Podcast

Also going on right now is the new podcast Death in Ice Valley. It explores the still unsolved mystery surrounding a female body found in Norway’s Isdalen (Ice Valley), near Bergen in Western Norway, in 1970. Producers hope to solve the mystery with the help of modern technology that wasn’t available back then and with input from listeners from around the world. There’s even a Facebook group where members can view and further discuss the evidence provided in each episode. The first episode was released April 15, and a new episode drops every Monday.

If true crime, cold cases, mystery, and intrigue are your thing, especially with a foreign touch, then this podcast may be of interest. I’m currently listening to it as the episodes drop and am curious to see how/if this case is resolved.

Authors & Books

Norwegian authors are also making a name for themselves outside of Norway.

Music

It’s been a busy time for Norwegian musicians abroad as well! Kygo, SigridAurora, and Alan Walker all played at Coachella Music Festival in April in Indio, California. Coachella was apparently one of the biggest crowds Kygo has ever played for. Kygo is now wrapping up his “Kids in Love Tour” in Canada and Northeastern U.S. After Coachella, Sigrid was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (watch appearance here). Kygo will be performing on The Tonight Show on May 14, and Aurora will be performing on Late Night with Seth Meyers on May 23.

Sports

Los Angeles’ Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy signed two Norwegian players for the 2018-19 season, Jorgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara. The LA Galaxy also has Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so Scandinavia is well represented.

And in case you’re not already aware, in honor of Norway’s Constitution Day (May 17) and the signing of its two Norwegian players, LA Galaxy will be hosting a special Norwegian Heritage Night at Stubhub Center in Carson on Friday, May 25. For more information on this event and how to buy tickets, please visit Los Angeles Culture Challenge: May 2018 (17th of May Celebrations & LA Galaxy Norwegian Heritage Night!).

Norway is also making a name for itself in boxing, female boxing to be precise, with Cecilia Brækhus (5 fast facts you need to know). Earlier this month in Carson, California, Brækhus not only continued her whole career win streak and defeated her opponent keeping her titles, but Brækhus’ match was also the first female boxing match to be aired on HBO in the cable network’s 45-year history of boxing coverage.

I hope you enjoyed this eclectic round-up of recent Norwegian sightings in the bigger world. If I missed anything, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Winter Olympics Excitement and Pride

Sochi 2014These two weeks of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi have been an exciting time to be Norwegian. At the start of the Olympics, we read several places that Norway and the USA would be neck in neck in the medal count competition, and some sources, such as the Wall Street Journal, even predicted that Norway would beat the USA, if only by a slim margin. It’s pretty fun that a little country like Norway with only 5 million people could maybe beat the USA with its population of 313.9 million, or at least give it a good run for its money!

Norway Sochi Opening Ceremony

Source: Pascal Le Segretain

I’m always proud to be Norwegian, but the feeling certainly intensified when the Opening Ceremonies began. It was with great anticipation that I waited for Norway to enter the arena. Even the kids, who by then had lost some interest in the Parade of Nations, eagerly focused on the TV again to see Norway enter. We were tracking the number of athletes each nation had, and Norway’s 118 athletes certainly surprised the kids, who had predicted about 20 since they knew Norway is so small compared to other countries.

I love watching all the countries enter, some nation groups are very large and others extremely small, at times just one athlete, but each and every one of them is equally excited to be there. I’m fascinated by the stories behind each country’s participation in the Olympics.

As the Winter Games progressed, we enthusiastically followed both Norwegian and American athletes in their events. There wasn’t too much competition directly between the two countries, so we could generally cheer for each country in their respective events without feeling unpatriotic towards the other.

We did have a couple of conflicts, though. In Men’s Slopestyle and Men’s Super-G, both Norway and USA were in the running for medals, and happily for us, they both ended up on the podium. USA took gold in Slopestyle while Norway’s Ståle Sandbech took silver. In Super-G, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud won gold while USA took silver and bronze. They were exciting days for our Norwegian-American household.

Mens Super-G Podium           Mens Slopestyle Winners

The kids are now familiar with events not normally in the forefront of American minds—biathlon, cross-country skiing, and Nordic combined—but very popular with Norwegians. And they know about a new Norwegian hero, Ole Einar Bjørndalen. They may not be able to spell or pronounce his name, but they do know that the athlete with the most medals in the history of the Winter Games is a Norwegian biathlete.

Biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen

Source: Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

An unexpected amusement from these Olympic Games has been Norway’s bold fashion statements. The men’s curling team’s pants made headlines before the Games even opened. The team wore nine different pairs of pants during competitions, and there was even a Facebook page for fans. I was not able to see all the pants in action, but I scoured the Internet to find pictures for you. Click on the photo to see the patterns even better.

Norway-curling-pants-collage

And Norway’s hockey team had very cool goalie masks… They pictured the Northern Lights, a Viking warrior, and a tribute to the Norwegian movie Trollhunter.

Norway-hockey-helmets-collage

An added benefit of Norway making headlines and doing so well in the Winter Olympics is that people are becoming more aware of Norway and maybe even learning a bit about our culture. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about how Norway’s culture and lifestyle could be the reason for Norway’s success at Winter Olympics. Norwegians thrive in the great outdoors. “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.” The author remarks how Norway’s cities are relatively close to the wilderness, and children are encouraged to play outdoors even on the coldest days. There’s a saying in Norway, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

The author also noted many other specific reasons that may contribute to Norway’s success: skiing is fundamental the country’s culture, athletes benefit from the large annual budget of Norway’s main organization for elite Olympic sports, high paying jobs allow people to enjoy much leisure time and spending money, and Norway competes in a sport—cross-country skiing—that has limited interest elsewhere and isn’t very competitive. The article is definitely worth a read if you’re interested and have the time.

These couple of weeks we’ve proudly worn anything with the Norwegian flag. I found a t-shirt at Sports Chalet with lots of flags on it and the Norwegian one stood out so of course I bought it, and I’ve worn it several times. Sonny has even worn his Norwegian sports jersey to soccer practices.

No matter what the final medal count is, I will be satisfied and proud. I feel the Olympic Games bring a great sense of community to the world. Everyone has something in common and can relate to it in one way or another. I feel kind of sad when it’s all over. I will watch the Closing Ceremonies with a mixed heart. The party is over and it’s back to the daily grind.

Now we wait anxiously to see if Oslo will bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff makes a great plea here in an open letter to the citizens of Norway. I personally would be thrilled if Oslo were to host the 2022 Winter Games. I know there’s great debate and opposition in Norway, so we’ll see what happens.

Our crazy sports schedule!

Slowly but surely, we’ve become a family with a crazy after-school sports schedule. Five days a week we find ourselves preparing for some kind of sports activity. Currently, we even have two activities on Saturdays.

Soccer with Coach MarkBut it wasn’t always like that and I always thought we’d never be a family with such a busy extra-curricular schedule. It all started so innocently and calmly. At age 2, Sonny began playing soccer with Coach Mark. It was only for an hour once a week on Saturday mornings. I was pregnant with Doobie so Daddy usually took him alone and often they hung out at the park with another dad and son afterwards.

For a long time, Doobie just tagged along to Sonny’s sports activities, whether it was just a general sports class or practice and games with a team. But it was only one sport each season. It was very manageable (except that some of the seasons were across town in Brentwood or Pacific Palisades which was a bit inconvenient with what LA traffic can be).

Soccer with Coach MiltonThen it was time for Doobie to play his own sports. It started at age 3 with soccer classes once a week with Coach Milton. Then he wanted to play on teams like his big brother. Soon both boys were each on a team each season. This was when we realized how important it was to stay close to home for sports teams, otherwise we’d be spending too much time commuting. Our local recreaction center became a life saver. Continue reading