Norway crowned world's sportiest nation in 2017

Axel Lund Svindal of Norway powers down a downhill course in the Alpine Skiing World Cup

Norway is the world’s sportiest nation in 2017! It’s the second time in GSN history that the Scandinavian country wins the Per Capita Cup, the ranking in which each country’s population figure is divided by the number of GSN points earned in the year, to measure how many citizens the country ‘needs’ to score 1 GSN point. The fewer needed, the sportier the country.

As of our final stats crunch-up at the end of December, it takes only 3,140 Norwegians to score one GSN point, over 1,400 fewer than Per Capita Cup runners-up Slovenia. Compare this with the 49,402 Americans or 23,504 Great Britons it takes to score one GSN point, and you have a measure of the sporting capability of this relatively small country, and of its 5,200,000-odd inhabitants.
Norway’s 2017 victory was built above all on an impressive performance in snow and ice (Winter) sports, a sport group in which it finished only 75 points behind winners USA. Not surprisingly, 25.3% of all of Norway’s GSN points were won in Cross Country Skiing. However, the plucky Norwegians scored points throughout the year in as many as 21 different sports, including Athletics, Rowing, Road Cycling and Swimming.
In comparison, runners-up Slovenia, like Norway strong in Winter sports and Handball, had a more limited range, scoring points in 14 sports.
Norway won the Per Capita Cup once before, in 2010, but has totted up no less than seven Per Capita Cup podium finishes (six second places and one third place) in the ten years since 2008.
Between them, Norway, Slovenia, New Zealand and Jamaica have shared the podium in all of the Per Capita Cups since GSN records began, except for 2010 (Switzerland and Austria were second and third), and 2012 (Trinidad & Tobago was third).
A quick glance at the Per Capita table for 2017 shows that, with the exception of New Zealand and Jamaica, there is a distinctly northern/eastern European flavour to the planet’s sportiest nations: all four Scandinavian countries (Denmark included) finished in the top 13, three countries from former Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia) finished in the top 11, four former Soviet republics/current Baltic states made the top 20 (Estonia, Georgia, Latvia and Belarus), plus Hungary and the Czech Republic, and two Alpine countries (Switzerland and Austria) also made the top 10.
Compared to last year’s final Per Capita rankings, Hungary was the most improved country in the top 10, having gained 9 positions after a remarkable 7th place overall at the World Swimming Championships. Estonia, up 7 places, and Switzerland, up 6, have also had a very successful year: the former finished 8th in the World Fencing Championships and the latter enjoyed a bumper year in Alpine Skiing and Tennis.
Further down the table, well done Georgia (14th, up 13 places) and Mongolia (18th, up 12 places) for a strong year, especially in Judo, a sport in which Mongolia came second and Georgia fourth at the World Championships.