Tyler Cowen wonders,
- Where are the good Scandinavian figure skaters? (Marginal Revolution)
He takes a first hack at a hypothesis:
The natural microeconomic hypothesis is to cite David Friedman’s work on warm houses in cold climates, and vice versa. Sweden has ice lots of the year, so it’s (maybe) less valuable to build ice arenas. That would mean you can skate for only part of the year. Warmer nations build more arenas — otherwise their citizens can’t skate at all — but then their skaters have year-round access. Perhaps the 1936 shift point comes because, if you go back far enough, no country is building ice arenas.Since it’s harder to build ski facilities in a warm climate, this effect is concentrated on skating.
I don’t have any evidence for this mechanism, it is simply the economic argument which comes to mind.
But, um, hockey.
On the other hand, the dumbworm colonies at the CBC wonder if there isn’t something more recondite at work:
This has to do with the Norwegian hockey team rather than Scandinavian figure skaters, but it’s still ten kinds of stupid in a five-stupid bag:
A shaman in Norway has suggested aboriginal people in B.C. might have cursed the Nordic country’s Olympic athletes because of their opposition to Norwegian-owned fish farming operations in B.C., but West Coast native leaders deny any mystic influence.
Norway is traditionally a powerhouse in the Winter Olympics, having placed first overall in Salt Lake City in 2002 with 13 gold medals.
But when Norway’s early results in the Vancouver Games were not as good as expected, the Norwegian broadcaster NRK sought out a Sami shaman — or indigenous spiritualist — who speculated his counterparts in B.C. might be the cause.