Rasmus Ankersen has always been fascinated by winning cultures, but it took him years to realize that his own hometown of Herning, Denmark was one of them. This small town of 50,000 has sent five players to the NHL over the past decade, and Rasmus tells its story in his new film The Hockey Miracle in the Middle of Nowhere.
Rasmus has trained with some of the best athletes in the world, spending six months traveling to athletic hot spots like Kingston, Jamaica, where some of the best sprinters have trained at the same athletic club, and South Korea, which has produced some of the best female golfers. He wanted to learn their secrets and also see if it’s possible to replicate them. This led him to write his bestselling book The Goldmine Effect: Crack the Secrets of High Performance, which served as inspiration for his new film.
A couple years ago while visiting his hometown, a friend suggested he take a look around him. Herning, Denmark is the birthplace of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand, and former NHL forwards Peter Regin and Nicklas Jensen. Despite this, it’s rarely mentioned as a hockey hotbed, so Rasmus decided to change that and make a movie about it.
Rasmus recently spoke with NHL.com about his new film, The Hockey Miracle in the Middle of Nowhere, and the small town that inspired it. Below is a snippet of the Q&A, read the whole piece here.
What have the players meant for Herning as a city?
“It’s a kind of a very down-to-earth town. People don’t get too high or too low. These guys are just ‘Herning boys.’ They come back to skate there in the summer. I think even that some of them will move back to Herning after they have finished their careers. They are not treated like superstars but that’s more of an expression of the mentality in the town. But I don’t think people in Herning actually understand how sensational this is. If you look at it at a per capita basis, it’s unreal. It would be difficult to find. It’s not just the five NHL players, that’s obviously the peak, but they have produced so many other players that played in Germany and Switzerland. When Denmark hosted the Worlds in 2018, 40 percent of the Danish team were Herning boys.”
How did you manage to make the film? The players live all over the world.
“I had three different production companies helping me. I did all the recordings in Herning. I had a local company helping me with the filming. But when I was in North America I used local guys there. I have been traveling a lot; to Helsinki to meet Nicklas and Peter who play there now. Freddie Andersen was back for holiday in Herning when I spoke to him. Really, I’ve been around doing this. It’s taken a couple of years. I haven’t been able to focus just on this. I’m trying to explain why it happened, but also giving ideas on how it can be replicated. A big part of my story is my meeting with this professor in Canada who started a study on birthplace effects. Basically he found out that small places are better than big cities at developing talent. If you grow up in the U.S. for example, and in a town with between 50,000 and 100,000 inhabitants, you are 18 times more likely to become a top player than if you grow up in a city with more than 500,000 people. There are some things in the environment in small towns that are more efficient. And Herning is around 50,000, so my question is, ‘is Herning the poster boy for this theory?’
How well do you know the players?
“I know them from the town. We grew up in the same town. I wouldn’t say they were my friends, but I knew them. I probably played hockey with them on the street. Frans is one year younger than me, we have common friends. Peter Regin and I have common friends. Freddie, Nicklas and Oliver are a bit younger so I didn’t have as much in common with them when I grew up. But it’s the same circles.”
Rasmus Ankersen translates the secrets of high performance into usable strategies for leaders and businesses. Using real-life examples and result-driven insights, he shares how to find talent you never thought existed, how to strengthen high performance patterns in teams and individuals, and how to develop winning cultures.
Interested in learning more about Rasmus and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].