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Published October 02, 2011, 12:02 AM

Norwegian Reality Show Title Up For Grabs

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — With a large percentage of Norwegians living in Minnesota and North Dakota, it's no wonder five of the 12 contestants on a new Norway-based reality show are from the two states.

By: Wendy Reuer, Forum Communications

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — With a large percentage of Norwegians living in Minnesota and North Dakota, it's no wonder five of the 12 contestants on a new Norway-based reality show are from the two states.

Dakota Gillespie of York, N.D.; Fargo native Justin Jorgenson; Mary Hakes of Northfield, Minn.; Paul Haugen of Alexandria, Minn.; and Britta Nordahl, a Minnesota native, were contestants on the second season of Norway's "Alt for Norge" that filmed this spring.

The reality show — whose name means "All for Norway" — is built on the premise of introducing Americans of Norwegian descent to their ancestral homeland and people. That is, if contestants can make it through a grueling set of challenges based on Norwegian life and culture.

Gillespie, a cowboy who now lives in Devils Lake, compares the show to "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race."

But Jorgensen said the show was different in that the contestants were very friendly to one another.

"The show was not about how we related to one another but how we related to Norway," he said.

Thea Lund Kristoffersen, senior information officer for "Alt for Norge," said challenges include such cringe-worthy tasks as eating ram testicles and dog-sledding across the frozen tundra.

"Our contestants will battle it out to prove their skill, courage and determination," Lund Kristoffersen said.

The winner of the show "will earn the right to call him or herself a true Norwegian," Lund Kristoffersen said. The winner also receives $50,000 and a family reunion with Norwegian relatives.

Each week the group is divided into two teams to compete in a challenge. Members of the losing team must then compete against each other to stay on the show or be eliminated and sent home.

"Diplomatic immunity" can be granted to one contestant during the challenge, making that person safe from elimination.

"This award is given to the traveler who is an ambassador for their home country, showing kindness and good spirit, regardless of the difficulties thrown in their path," Lund Kristoffersen said.

Gillespie won diplomatic immunity the first week by winning a dog-sledding challenge.

"I started last and finished first. That was pretty cool," Gillespie said.

He was eliminated after the second challenge when he failed to twist out another come-from-behind win in a yarn-spinning event.

"I'm a cowboy, not a yarn spinner, I guess," Gillespie said.

At 21 years old, Gillespie was the youngest contestant this season.

Jorgensen, 36, a designer who now lives in California, said he learned of the show from his brother, who works at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead.

"Really, it was a dream come true," Jorgensen said.

The show advertised in the U.S. for contestants and was open to those of Norwegian descent who had never been to Norway.

Haugen, 53, who works in the Twin Cities area, heard about the show through a newspaper article from his hometown.

"I've always wanted to go to Norway. I'm a 100 percent Norwegian, and my parents always talked about going - they never made it," he said.

Reuer is a reporter at the Forum in Fargo

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