Friday, June 19, 2009 2:36 PM
Heating Up For The World Sauna Championship
The people of Finland are a very prideful people. Over the years they have come up with a variety of oddball "sports" that show their true skills and attributes. Anthill Sitting and the Wife-Carry are two great tests of applicable survival skills. You never really know when you will be in the situation where you would be stuck testing the endurance of your buttocks against a bunch of enraged pincer-weilding insects, or the next time you're running from the Antero Vipunen with your wife on your back. These are two real threats in Finland ;) but how often do you think you'll get stuck in the scorching 230 degree (F) weather? Probably never, but you never know when you might get locked in one of the many saunas they have up there.
Saunas are everywhere in Finland apparently. Almost every home, school, hospital, community center, and even the prisons have saunas. If that isn't enough for you to know that they take pride in their saunas, how about the World Sauna Championship? That's right. There is actually a competition, a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP COMPETITION, where men get naked and sit in saunas. I enjoy a nice long sit in a sauna, taking in the smell of poisonous plants and enjoying the cleansing feeling of the hot damp air. These saunas, however, are a totally different animal.
Upon entering these saunas, the temperature of the scorching hot air is already 110 degrees Celsius, hotter than the boiling point of water. When you think about it, the hottest temperature recorded on earth is 136 degrees (F). This sauna stomps that measly temperature out by a good 85 degrees! Medics make sure that they have everyone's medical information beforehand to make sure that they are healthy enough to participate. Even still, they sit by, waiting tentatively for any kind of medical problem.
The way the championship works is six competitors enter the sauna at once. The temperature is roughly 230 degrees (F). One pint of water is thrown on the stones every thirty seconds for the duration of the round. 160 competitors from 24 different countries form tournament style brackets and compete. The champion is determined by who can sit in the sauna for the longest period of time and still be able to leave unassisted. Medics will pull people out if they are unable to sit straight and can not stop moving their hands.
In 2008, Bjarne Hermansson took the championship by roasting in there for 18:15. Leila Kulin was the female champion, with a time of 5:22.
Filed under: championship, heat, world sauna championship, endurance, sauna championship, sauna, weird sports, hot, finnish sauna