Dress like an Olympian
Get your Dale of Norway Olympic Sweater at The Nordic Shop
Business and Sports Editor
The Norwegian American
Back in November, Walter Hanson, CEO of The Nordic Shop in Rochester, Minn., was promoting Helly Hansen’s comfortable high tech COVID-19 mask.
“We’ve gone through more of those than I thought was humanly possible,” Hanson said in a recent Skype interview. “We were just inundated for a while. That helped keep the doors open while we were closed. We probably have less than 100 of each size of each color left.”
At the time, he also said he would welcome the day when he didn’t have to ship any more masks because it would mean a sense of normalcy was returning, and he could go back to shipping sweaters. The day is here.
As the premier seller of Dale of Norway products in the world, “We got the go ahead to be the ones to break the news and announce it, the unveiling,” of the Dale Tokyo Olympic sweater the Norwegian athletes will wear at the Olympics July 23 – Aug. 8 to the American market. Want to feel like an Olympian without the hard work? Get yourself the sweater.
This is a relatively new venture for Dale of Norway, known more for its warm sweaters for the winter, to outfit a team for warmer climes. Since 1956, Dale has been asked to design and produce the official sweater for the Norwegian Ski Association for Norwegian athletes in the Winter Olympics and World Cup events. In more recent years, the International Olympic Committee selected Dale to design the official sweater for the Winter Olympics and IOC, the only sweaters with permission to use the Olympic rings.
Each Olympics there is a different design to tie into the culture of the host country and city. Hanson rattles off the designs from previous Games. This is just the second time Dale has been asked to handle a Summer Games. The sweater is simple in look without crowded images as on the traditional sweater. It combines Norwegian and Japanese touches and salutes to each culture.
“They’ve always tried to stay respectful of where the Games are and try to make it be about that culture, but yet Norwegian,” said Hanson. “The center point of the sweater is the Norwegian eight point rose in red, white and blue. The pattern that’s coming out from that are symbols found in a Japanese Temple that stands for Luck and Good Fortune. So, they used that symbol in the whole border going around the sweater for luck and good fortune in the Games. They wanted to try to make it more modern and not as old-style as they’ve done on some things. It was much more let’s create something that’s really fun that speaks to that modern modernist of Japan because they’re the host of the Games. Yet still being Norwegian about it. I think they came up with a good solution for that. The design is extremely well thought out. It still has the ideal Norway look to it, but it’s definitely different. You’re not going to mistake it for something else. They wanted it to be identifiable and something that you only find for the team. I think that shows a lot of respect for the team.”
There’s a choice of white or blue for the general public. When the team selected the white to be the team colors, the Red Sun of Japan was added to the back collar representing the Japanese flag, making the symbolism complete.
Used to making sweaters warm for the winter elements, they had to make the summer sweater less warm but still protective for cool nights and comfortable.
“This sweater is really just an interesting one,” said Hanson. “Not only did they do it with their own new yarn but they also put little tiny breathing holes through some of the sleeve and through the back to increase the amount of airflow through this sweater. It’s a very fine gauge of yarn and it’s just like wearing a really super soft T-shirt or silk shirt almost. It’s that soft. It is a blend of merino wool and tencel in a single ply knit that is ideal for summer. The tencel helps give it strength. Tencel also doesn’t hold any moisture like merino wool doesn’t hold any moisture. So, it’s a perfect item for summer. It just always is going to be evaporating anything that your body is building up and because it has much more surface area than your skin it actually cools you down faster. I love it. It is fantastic.
“That’s why we sell a ton of merino wool, T-shirts, polo shirts, etc., from Helly Hansen. Cotton makes a great towel, but when it’s exposed to moisture, it just keeps absorbing it. As it does, it just causes the fibers to swell. Once they swell and close up, then no air gets through. That’s when you feel like you’re just trapped in this clammy thing. There’s no way for air to get through it, whereas for merino you have all that surface area for moisture to evaporate. It’s like a natural air conditioner for the body. Also it doesn’t hold any odors.”
The sweater comes in sizes small to extra-extra large for men, and small to extra large for women and priced at $220. Like a number of recent sweaters, it comes with a quarter zipper rather than traditional clasps.
“It’s just a style thing,” he said. “I believe in the 2022 – 2023, there’s going to be some more classic pieces coming in with clasps in them.”
Don’t blink too long. The Winter Olympics in Beijing are Feb. 4 – 20, 2022. The next sweater will be out soon.
To purchase the Tokyo sweater, go to www.thenordicshop.net.
This article originally appeared in the July 9, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.