Norway the world’s sportiest nation in 2018

Axel-Lund Svindal of Norway celebrating victory in the men’s Alpine Skiing Downhill at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

For the second year in succession, Norway was crowned as the world’s sportiest nation, winning the 2018 Per Capita Cup, the exclusive GSN 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.

Except for 2012, Norway has been a podium finisher in the Per Capita Cup every year since GSN records began in 2008, and this is its third title, after those of 2010 and 2017.
Norway’s exploit comes as no surprise then, though this was one of the most closely fought contests in Per Capita Cup history: Norway’s winning margin over runner-up Croatia was a mere 594 citizens – this year, Norway needed 3,523 of its hardy inhabitants to score one GSN point, while Croatia needed 4,117.
A few stats to sum up the 2018 performance of Norway, population 5.2 million:
- Winner Per Capita Cup overall
- 11th in the Global Cup
- Runner-up Per Capita Cup men (behind Croatia)
- Winner Per Capita Cup women
- Winner in Snow & Ice Sports
- Winner outright in two sports: Cross Country Skiing and Ski Jumping
- Podium finisher in seven sports, including the two above.
Norway’s 2018 result was mostly based on its Snow & Ice Sports prowess, though not exclusively so: it scored points in 18 different sports in the course of the year, among them Orienteering, Shooting, Rowing, Canoe/Kayak Sprint, Sailing, Triathlon and Free Wrestling.
By comparison, Croatia scored points in ‘only’ 10 sports, the lion’s share of its bounty – 63.4% of its total points - coming from Football.
Some other interesting facts about this year’s Per Capita Cup:
- Past Per Capita Cup winner New Zealand, in sixth place, was the only non-European nation in the ranking’s top 10
- A very special mention for the Netherlands, one of only two countries to ever finish in the top 10 in both the Global Cup and the Per Capita Cup in the same year – in 2018, the Netherlands came ninth in the Global Cup and eighth in the Per Capita Cup; Australia did it in 2015, and so did the Netherlands (again) in 2014
Belgium made the Per Capita Cup top 10 for the first time ever in 2018, their best year in GSN history so far, as they also finished 17th in the Global Cup (their previous top Global Cup finish was 32nd in 2014).