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Viral video: Cross country skier runs into polar bear (or does he?)

Chris Chase
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Update: On its website, NorwayTV admits that the video is fake. Read the statement at the bottom of this post.

A popular YouTube video that shows a cross country skier in Oslo coming upon a wandering polar bear has generated debate in the online community about whether it's real or not:

Since the clip was uploaded to the site, over 200,000 people have watched. Commenters are mixed about the clip's authenticity. After a dozen views, I still can't figure out what's what. Some arguments for both sides:

Real -- If it's a special effect, it's a pretty good one for a YouTube clip. (Notice the shadowing.) Remember when Jack, Kate and Sawyer ran into the polar bear on "Lost." That looked fake and they spent millions of dollars on that show. Plus, Norway is one of the five countries inhabited by the giant animals so it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Fake -- It's shot in the same style as every fake viral video (opens on real landmark, zooms out to suggest cinematic integrity, is shaky, shows the moment in slow motion). Why was somebody filming this in the first place? Is that a person to the left of the bear?

View photo

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Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 1.31.12 PM

Maybe that's an optical illusion like the hanging munchkin in "The Wizard of Oz," but it sure looks like a guy wearing a winter hat. If so, he appears pretty calm for a guy walking near a 1,200-pound animal.

You decide for yourself.

NorwayTV's statement:

There are no polar bears in mainland Norway. But a myth says that polar bears walk in the streets of Norway.

We thought it would be fun to make a little joke about this, so we made this video with a skiier meeting a polar bear at the world ski championship arena of Holmenkollen in Oslo.
The clip is shared in many channels, and people all over the world discuss whether there are polar bears in Norway or not.

There are polar bears in Norway, but only at the islands of Svalbard.

I still think the CGI was pretty impressive.

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