The Crazy Competitions of Finland
Have you ever wondered how far you could carry your wife or throw your phone? Well, Finland has, and they've figured it out. Here are some of the craziest competitions invented by Finns:
1. Wife Carrying
Wife carrying is an actual annual event in Sonkajarvi, Finland where male competitors race through an obstacle course all while carrying a female teammate. There are several ways in which they can carry the other person: Piggyback, Fireman's carry (over-the-shoulder), or Estonian-style (the women wraps her legs around the male's shoulders, hanging upside down and holding onto his waist).
There are several theories as to how this unconventional activity originated. They all revolve around a man named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, who was a forest-dwelling robber in the late 1800's. Some say that Rosvo-Ronkainen and his thieves would steal food and women from their own or neaby villages, whom they would carry on their backs as they ran away. Another theory is that Rosvo-Ronakinen trained his thieves to be faster and stronger by carrying heavy sacks on their back, which soon took a competitive nature and became a sport.
Regardless of the origin and humorous concept, competitors take it as seriously as any other sport. Besides, a large prize is at stake: the winner takes home his female partner's weight in beer.
2. Mobile Phone Throwing
Finland is also home to the Mobile Phone Throwing Championships. As the name suggests, contenstants chuck cell phones as far as they can. There are four diffenent categories to the sport: Traditional (thrown over the shoulder with farthest distance winning), Freestyle (points given to creative choreography), Team Original (up to three competitors each throw and add their scores), and Junior (for children 12 years and younger).
The event started in 2000 by the Lead organizer of Nokia, which has its headquarters in Finland. The first event was sponsored by insurance companies as a way to encourage the recycling of old phones that lie in the many lakes of Finland. Discarded cellphones could be recycled instead of turning into toxic waste. Today, the phones used are all still gathered and recycled.
3. Swamp Soccer
If you're not a fan of getting dirty, this sport isn't for you. The activity started in Finland as a form of exercise for soldiers and athletes, since running on the soft surface of a bog is physically demanding. But in 1998, "The Swamp Baron" Jyrki Vaananen organized the first Finnish championship version of it. Today, there are around 300 organized swamp soccer teams around the world.
The rules of standard European football are slightly modified in the swamp version. Each game is split into two 12-minute rounds. Six players take the field at a time, and can be substituted as often as needed. There is no off-side rule and corner-kicks, throw-ins and penalties are made with a drop of the ball onto the foot. The Soccer Swamp World Championship is held annually in Finland in the middle of July.
4. Berry Picking
Finland is known for its fields of colorful wildberries, and picking them is a pastime of many during summer vacations at the cottage -- but it also has gained a competitive aspect in 1998. The Berry Picking World Championships take place in Suomussalmi in Eastern Finland. The use of a berry-picking rake is allowed when collecting the lingonberries, and the amount of berries are weight after an hour. The current record is 61.69 pounds (27.98 kilograms)! It's free to enter, and there is a cash award for the winners!
5. Air Guitar
Who hasn't strummed an imaginary guitar along to a song? Finland took the practice further by creating the Air Guitar World Championship in 1996. Held annually in Oulu, Finland and is free to enter. Scoring is similar to that of ice skating, based on stage presence, airness, mimesmanship and technical merit. Each contestant plays air guitar in two one-minute rounds, the first to a song of their choice and the second to a random song - making them improvise in front of a live audience. According to the competition's ideology, wars would end, climate change stop and all bad things disappear if everyone played the air guitar.
6. Winter swimming
Finns have never been strangers to dips in icy lakes after a sauna, but as of late, the chilly practice has taken a competitive turn. The championship takes place in Rovaniemi, Finland, near the Arctic Circe where Santa Claus lives. It starts with a 450m endurance swim and ends with relays. Other categories include the breaststroke and freestyle. Afterwards, contestants can warm up in a hot tub.
A kicksled is exactly what it sounds like - a sled that you move by kicking the ground with your feet (think of it like a scooter for snow.) It has been a way to get around in Finland for hundreds of years, but was revised as a serious sport in Finland since 1988 with the start of the Kicksled World Championships. For some, its purely for fun or charity, but others train all year to kick their way to victory. It's easy for everyone to ride a kicksled, making it popular for people of all ages and fitness levels.