I guess it was hot enough for you.
August 9, 2010 5:55 AM   Subscribe

Remember this crazy sport? Well, sort of unsurprisingly, today one of the contestants has died. The World Sauna championships will likely not be repeated. BTW, for those of you who want it, there's video, and pictures, but they're both graphic (as in watching someone voluntarily cooked to death graphic).
posted by jadayne (97 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Saw the pics. Wouldn't recommend them. Can't even imagine the video.

The contest reminds me of this common metaphor
posted by UrbanEye at 6:05 AM on August 9, 2010


.
posted by public at 6:09 AM on August 9, 2010


Really? It reminds me of this metaphor.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:09 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Both men had to be dragged forcibly from the 110°C sauna, [...] the organisers have claimed that all precautions were taken to avoid injury to the competitors.

Am I the only person having difficulty reconciling these two statements?
posted by Mike1024 at 6:09 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Holy crap, I didn't realize at first that those were celsius temperatures. So it was hotter than boiling water in there and the humidity was high, so presumably they were being scalded to death by the steam.

I'm actually kind of scared to sit in even a regular sauna alone (I'm a bit of a fainter). I can't imagine the scale of recklessness required to hold a contest like this or to enter one.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:12 AM on August 9, 2010


Goodbye World Sauna Championship, hello Darwin Awards!
posted by tommasz at 6:14 AM on August 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


This has more to do with the ancient hatred between Russia and Finland than anything else.

Finland is the home of the sauna (it's pretty much the only Finnish word used in English.) It is a significant part of the Finnish culture and an object of national pride. No way a Finn would let a Russian walk away their title. No way.

Timo Kaukonen will be a national hero in Finland - right up there with Mannerheim.

No indication if these injuries were exacerbated by beating each other with birch branches.
posted by three blind mice at 6:18 AM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh man, watching the video (yes, I have a strong stomach - I don't necessarily advise this) and one of the paramedics can't even TOUCH the guy.

I will never understand why people do stuff like this voluntarily. My emotions are a mix between "DUDE, WTF WERE YOU THINKING?!" and "OUCH!" My thoughts go out to the Russian man's family, who now have to cope with a totally preventable tragedy. Oh well, I guess everything in life carries risks - but I really am having trouble groking how sitting in a 110C room is a risk worth taking for anybody. I suppose it felt "safe" since no one had died from it, but the truth is that no one had died yet.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:19 AM on August 9, 2010


230°F
posted by DU at 6:20 AM on August 9, 2010


(Also: the title of this post is made of win.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:22 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


OH MY GOD

What are these people thinking!!!!!

Is the skin of the russian guy peeling of ?
posted by Pendragon at 6:28 AM on August 9, 2010


I have trouble seeing how competitive sauna-ing is any crazier than a lot of other extreme sports, and it seems like it might be safer, based on my total lack of knowledge about the safety of climbing Everest and going into deep caves and scuba diving in deep caves and all the other insane sounding extreme sports. At least in a sauna, there's just a single door between you and medical help.
posted by jeather at 6:29 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


.
posted by KMH at 6:33 AM on August 9, 2010


Mrs. FoB, upon seeing the headline: There are World Sauna Championships?
Me: Not anymore.

A . for Ladyzhensky, even if he was a damn fool. Here's hoping Kaukonen makes a full recovery and goes on to do something worthwhile with his life.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:34 AM on August 9, 2010


It's easy to call these guys stupid, but at these extreme it seems more likely to be some kind of mental illness.
posted by DU at 6:35 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


From my perspective, this appears to be a rather passive version of "chicken."

Frankly, the idea of sitting in any hot place, when my state has a heat index of 114, sounds rather daft.
posted by hellojed at 6:38 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


jeather: I have trouble seeing how competitive sauna-ing is any crazier than a lot of other extreme sports,

Indeed. In the news the same week: Swedish mountaineer and professional skier Fredrik "Frippe" Ericsson fell to his death while attempting to summit 28,253-foot K2, the world's second-tallest peak. He was 35.

It should be noted that Ericsson intended to ski down from the peak to the base camp which is far more dangerous than simply summiting... which is dangerous enough.

Two hundred ninety-nine people have successfully summited K2, compared to the 4,000-plus Everest summiters. Seventy-eight have died during their K2 attempts.

Compared to that, "competitive sauna-ing" is nothing like extreme.
posted by three blind mice at 6:43 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg routine: "I like the hot tubs at the hotels. I like to go there when there's a guy in there already, I say 'hey man, you mind if I join you?' He says no. Then I go and I turn the whirlpool heat up, then I go by and I add some carrots and onions. Then I say 'hey man, just simmer for a whil- I mean, sit there.'"

Anyhow, this is a tragedy, but then again, this dude died doing something that he genuinely loved, in the same way that the Nordic warriors of olden days loved battle. He's probably in a better place now, shvitsing in Valhalla.
posted by griphus at 6:47 AM on August 9, 2010


This is a thousand kinds of fucked up.
posted by bwg at 6:55 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live in Finlander country in northern Minnesota, and have taken some pretty intense saunas, including a couple at 230-235F. It's hot! These guys were in for seven minutes, which in a dry sauna, or one with a reasonable amount of steam, is totally doable at that temperature. what gets me here is how much steam they were using - one liter of water per minute. This is a terrifying amount of steam. That said, this is totally normal sauna behavior taken to the extreme. Sauna oneupsmanship is SOP - nobody wants to be the first to leave.
posted by Makwa at 6:58 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


No more Love P)arade, no more Sauna Championships.

What next? The Wife Carrying went OK, could it be the Cannabis Cup next to depart Europe's cultural heritage?
posted by quarsan at 6:59 AM on August 9, 2010


Um, how did they really think this was going to end? Seriously?

As with extreme eating championships, this is one "sport" I have a hard time reconciling with plain common sense and is unspeakably sad for anyone who may have cared for or depended upon these individuals.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:08 AM on August 9, 2010


Sauna oneupsmanship is SOP - nobody wants to be the first to leave.

It's a rather sad state of affairs when lobsters and loaches prove they have better survival instincts than humans.
posted by zarq at 7:11 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


My thoughts on this are mostly covered by previous posts but can somebody please explain to me the idea behind altering the humidity in a sauna? Specifically this comment.

'what gets me here is how much steam they were using - one liter of water per minute. This is a terrifying amount of steam. ' makwa
posted by numberstation at 7:14 AM on August 9, 2010


numberstation, steam scalds. So the more steam added to the room, the more likely the contestants are to suffer from burns.
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2010


can somebody please explain to me the idea behind altering the humidity in a sauna?

My best guess here - not being a sauna champion, or even a sauna enthusiast - is that the humidity makes it more intense and thus more "extreme." Just from experience - an 100F day in Portugal is entire bearable as the humidity is very low. The same temperature in degrees in Rhode Island is enough to make you want to kill yourself, or at least puke, because the humidity is very often 80% or more. The higher the humidity, the more you sweat, the harder it is to breathe, and generally you just feel a hell of a lot crappier.

The humidity also makes it feel hotter, so if you have a 110C sauna and you're making it more humid, you're actually raising the heat index without raising the thermostat. So, it's 110C on the thermometer, but it could actually feel more like 120C or up to 150C depending on the relative humidity.

Truly, if you've experienced hot days in humid and non-humid climates, you should be able to grasp the difference between hot + dry and hot + humid and intuit which one feels worse.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:20 AM on August 9, 2010


sort of unsurprisingly

Indeed. Hard to have much sympathy for someone who basically sends a gilded, engraved invitation to the Reaper.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:26 AM on August 9, 2010


I've developed a very healthy "cure" for one-upsmanship in these kinds of situations: it consists of not caring what a bunch of idiots think about me.
posted by Aquaman at 7:29 AM on August 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Darwin Award Winner!
posted by Fizz at 7:37 AM on August 9, 2010


I'm no scientist, but I believe that water transfers heat to your body faster than air. So boiling water will fuck you up faster than air at the same temperature. Heat is ultimately transferred by the bouncing around of little molecules and other small-type shit, and the denser the substance is, the more molecules are bouncing. -- Or something like that.
posted by creasy boy at 7:39 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Steam is a much more efficient conductor of heat than dry air. These men were damn near boiled. And come on, people - you really never do stupid things just to see if you can? really?
posted by Makwa at 7:41 AM on August 9, 2010


Indeed. Hard to have much sympathy for someone who basically sends a gilded, engraved invitation to the Reaper.

I will not make a tasteless Terry Pratchett Discworld joke. I will not make a tasteless Terry Pratchett Discworld joke. I will not make a tasteless Terry Pratchett Discworld joke. I will not make a tasteless Terry Pratchett Discworld joke....
posted by zarq at 7:41 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Darwin Award Winner!

They should revise the "rules" for Darwin Awards. Only those who have yet to procreate should be eligible. The Russian was in his sixties, and presumably had grandchildren.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:43 AM on August 9, 2010


I've seen some of the worst images from the the other night, and can not un-see it, had flashbacks today when desperately trying to think about something else. Their burns were horrible, their skin was boiled by the steam and peeled from their bodies as they were dragged out.

Timo Kaukonen was red-carded for touching the Russian competitor Vladimir Ladyzhensky (when he collapsed in convulsions), so he was actually disqualified. I'm not sure if this makes Vladimir Ladyzhensky or the third runner up the winner.

Last year Timo won and Vladimir came in third. Sad irony is that this sauna they competed in was a new type, one that shortens the time of these Sauna-games, which they implemented to make the competition safer.
posted by dabitch at 7:43 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


And come on, people - you really never do stupid things just to see if you can? really?

No, I don't. Honestly. I'm that total buzzkill (much like Doug) who tells you "You really shouldn't oughta be doing that."

It's part of my job. I'm a nanny. I'm supposed to keep you from killing yourself. I'm literally paid to go around saying "STOP THAT BEFORE SOMEONE LOSES AN EYE!" all day long.

The worst is when I have to say these things to my fiancé. And I do. A lot.

I am why no one can ever have any fun around here.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:46 AM on August 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


grapefruitmoon, I totally need to hire you to nanny me, I do eye-losing stunts all day.
posted by dabitch at 7:48 AM on August 9, 2010


Humidity short-circuits the body's own cooling apparatus by making it impossible for sweat to evaporate, which is largely why the heat we've recently experienced in the northeast has been so utterly unbearable.

Makwa, my urge to do stupid things usually ends when pain begins.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:49 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


> And come on, people - you really never do stupid things just to see if you can? really?

Not since high school, really. Life is precious, etc.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:50 AM on August 9, 2010


Ha, dabitch. My rates are pretty reasonable and I offer a complimentary lunch of either hotdogs or grilled cheese sandwiches.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:52 AM on August 9, 2010


I have trouble seeing how competitive sauna-ing is any crazier than a lot of other extreme sports, and it seems like it might be safer, based on my total lack of knowledge about the safety of climbing Everest and going into deep caves and scuba diving in deep caves and all the other insane sounding extreme sports.

I guess what separates it from a lot of dangerous sports/competitions is that it involves bringing competitors to the brink of death in a more literal way than most. If someone scuba dives in a deep cave, they might die if something goes terribly wrong, but that's a hazard that divers try to avoid as much as possible. Climbing Everest is closer because more of the point is surviving conditions that are inherently deadly, but the point is still to be physically and mentally capable of a task and avoid danger as much as possible while still getting to the peak. The closet extreme sport I can think of is competitive free diving, because those competitors are basically trying to survive severe oxygen deprivation better than anyone else. I suppose surviving something that could kill you is an aspect of all extreme sports, but trying to sit in a room longer than everyone else even though you know you'll die at some point if you don't leave seems crazier than anything else I've heard of regardless of the actual death/injury rates.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:59 AM on August 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


> I have trouble seeing how competitive sauna-ing is any crazier than a lot of other extreme sports, and it seems like it might be safer, based on my total lack of knowledge about the safety of climbing Everest and going into deep caves and scuba diving in deep caves and all the other insane sounding extreme sports. At least in a sauna, there's just a single door between you and medical help.

I would think the big difference would the quality of the views your getting.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:00 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Has anyone ever died at a polar bear plunge? That strikes me as the same kind of reckless "sport" stupidity.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:06 AM on August 9, 2010


I have trouble seeing how competitive sauna-ing is any crazier than a lot of other extreme sports, and it seems like it might be safer, based on my total lack of knowledge about the safety of climbing Everest and going into deep caves and scuba diving in deep caves and all the other insane sounding extreme sports.

"Competitive sauna" appears to be a great candidate for "Jackass", climbing Mount Everest, not so much.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:07 AM on August 9, 2010



The idea for adding water is to make it feel warmer faster. Conversly, the water in the air condenses on you adding a layer of protection from the steam. If you ever want to be not invited back to a sauna, wave a towel around when it gets good and hot in there.

I just sauna'd at my parent's house this past weekend. My dad's little sauna only gets to about 170, but as I don't get to sauna very often that was hot enough. A hot sauna followed by a cold shower (or better yet, a dip in a frozen lake) is an amazing experience. (Worth noting that my dad is a member of the 300 club)

I could totally go for a sauna championship. I used to have a friend whose sauna could get to 220 without much effort. You could give yourself a burn by blowing on your skin and you had to breathe very slowly and deliberately. It was quite meditative. My friends couldn't stand it that hot for very long, but I always wanted to see how much more I could take.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:15 AM on August 9, 2010


"I offer a complimentary lunch of either hotdogs or grilled cheese sandwiches."

What are you trying to do, kill someone?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:16 AM on August 9, 2010


I really am having trouble groking how sitting in a 110C room is a risk worth taking for anybody.

Sauna is generally almost completely safe. Where I live, people have been doing this for centuries; it's sort of a ritual they repeat every Saturday, year after year, starting from their childhood, until they die (of old age, not the heat). 110C is nothing, you hardly feel it in a normal sauna, and you can easily stay there for fifteen minutes, maybe half an hour if you're feeling tough (and then repeat the procedure after having a few beers). Even 140C can still be bearable under the right conditions (the air must be very dry, though). I can't imagine what happened there that things went so horribly wrong; but it looks there must have been way too much steam in the room. Whether it was because something (the ventilation system?) was broken or because of human error, I can't say.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:21 AM on August 9, 2010


posted by three blind mice This has more to do with the ancient hatred between Russia and Finland than anything else. Finland is the home of the sauna (it's pretty much the only Finnish word used in English.) It is a significant part of the Finnish culture and an object of national pride. No way a Finn would let a Russian walk away their title. No way.

FINNISH HIM!
posted by mattdidthat at 8:26 AM on August 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


Godspeed you, Red Lobster.
posted by stavrogin at 8:27 AM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


110C is nothing, you hardly feel it in a normal sauna,

REALLY? That's higher than the temperature at which water boils. I'm struggling to remember the hottest sauna I've been in, but I'm pretty much a heat wimp and I'm certain that it was nowhere near that hot. Perhaps if you're used to it you would "hardly feel it" but I'm guessing that for your average person it's pretty damned hot.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:31 AM on August 9, 2010


My rates are pretty reasonable and I offer a complimentary lunch of either hotdogs or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Grilled cheese sandwiches, you say?

Life is precious, etc.

And it all ends the same way.
No, not the being cooked alive part.
posted by ODiV at 8:31 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Grilled cheese sandwiches, you say?

Not those grilled cheese sandwiches. Get your mind out of the gutter.

posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:35 AM on August 9, 2010


I have trouble seeing how competitive sauna-ing is any crazier than a lot of other extreme sports, and it seems like it might be safer, based on my total lack of knowledge about the safety of climbing Everest and going into deep caves and scuba diving in deep caves and all the other insane sounding extreme sports. At least in a sauna, there's just a single door between you and medical help.

Because the goals and methods are very different. In rock climbing for instance the goal is to climb to the top, and in attempting to achieve that goal you setup a safety system in case you fall to protect you. You hope not to fall but if you do you try to protect yourself. Climbing snowy peaks? You bring insulation and heating gear, you try to prepare for the conditions and protect yourself from them.

In this you are just putting your body in an environment designed to destroy is and waiting to see how long you can hold out against another guy. The goal is near death, the goal of diving and climbing, etc is not to get as close to dying as possible. Really these guys may as well take turns going up a ladder one rung higher and falling off. End result will be the same. Either you quit because you are going to die if you proceed or you die.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2010


REALLY? That's higher than the temperature at which water boils.

Think of the difference between sticking your hand inside a pot of boiling water, and sticking your hand inside a hot oven--which is, for many dishes, over a hundred fahrenheit degrees hotter than boiling water. Your hand will not burn right away unless you touch a hot surface. Air is a superb insulator.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:48 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


REALLY? That's higher than the temperature at which water boils. I'm struggling to remember the hottest sauna I've been in, but I'm pretty much a heat wimp and I'm certain that it was nowhere near that hot. Perhaps if you're used to it you would "hardly feel it" but I'm guessing that for your average person it's pretty damned hot.

Yes, it is higher than the boiling temperature of water, but our bodies are pretty good at cooling down - sweat normally forms sort of a protective bubble around the skin.

Due to the extreme humidity, it is rather deceptive to say that the temperature in that competitive sauna was 110°C.
posted by muddgirl at 8:51 AM on August 9, 2010


Or what Kutsuwamushi said.
posted by muddgirl at 8:51 AM on August 9, 2010


Is there a German word for how fucking retarded that is?
posted by zzazazz at 8:52 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I offer a complimentary lunch of either hotdogs or grilled cheese sandwiches

If you serve those hotdogs steamed, I think you're on the cusp of a very efficient themed restaurant idea here.
posted by Shepherd at 8:53 AM on August 9, 2010


The "pictures" link has been removed due to terms of use violation. I know where to find the photos of the competitors being dragged out from the sauna, but please trust me on this you really don't want to see them. Their skin came off.
posted by dabitch at 8:56 AM on August 9, 2010


FINNISH HIM!

ITYM FINNISH HYMN
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:57 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


REALLY? That's higher than the temperature at which water boils.

Really. It's quite tolerable, provided that you don't pour too much water on the stones. I've most likely (don't know for sure; not all saunas have thermometers) been to a 110C sauna, and it wasn't really any worse than the one my father has at home that only goes up to 90C because the air in there is always so damn humid, which is the thing that really matters; you don't really feel the heat itself when you're in a sauna, you feel the hot water molecules in the air. Enough steam can make even a 50-60C sauna intolerable.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:01 AM on August 9, 2010


Of interest: The Burned Nose Club (From Popular Mechanics).
posted by MuffinMan at 9:02 AM on August 9, 2010


I guess you could say it was a dead heat.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:02 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


They should revise the "rules" for Darwin Awards. Only those who have yet to procreate should be eligible.

That is part of the rules. The people yelling out "Darwin Awards LOL!" mistakenly think it applies to anyone that gets themselves killed by their own stupidity and either forget or ignore the whole killed-off before-they-spread-their-dumbassery part.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:09 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Think of the difference between sticking your hand inside a pot of boiling water, and sticking your hand inside a hot oven--which is, for many dishes, over a hundred fahrenheit degrees hotter than boiling water.

Makes sense, thanks.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:16 AM on August 9, 2010


The Winsome Parker Lewis: "Has anyone ever died at a polar bear plunge? That strikes me as the same kind of reckless "sport" stupidity."

Polar bear plunge seems to be (according to Wikipedia) pretty much the same thing as ice swimming. Which is traditional and quite popular here in Finland, and not considered a daredevil kind of thing at all. The point is not to stay in the water for very long, but to take a quick dip or a very short swim and then get warm again. Everything has its dangers, but ice swimming seems a lot less dangerous to me than walking on the icy January streets of Helsinki. It's not a crazy, endurance sport type of thing at all.

About the sauna championships.

I love sauna. I've been bathing is saunas since I was a baby. For me the right temperature is usually somewhere between 75 and 85 degrees Celsius in fairly humid sauna. I know some people who like temperatures around and over 90 but that feels extreme to me. I like getting the heat to the point where I have to leave, cooling down properly and then going back in. Repeat that cycle as many times as feels right. Afterwards I feel clean, relaxed and usually a bit meditative. It's a nice way to spend time with friends and family.

And these sauna championships... To me they seem a sort of sad example of machismo, Finnish style. It's a thing here, especially with middle aged men, to show your toughness by outenduring your sauna partners. Takes the fun out of the whole thing. Sauna is supposed to get you clean and feeling relaxed and wonderful, not covered with burns and/or dead. I think it's the right decision to cancel the championships permanently and they should have done it years ago when they realized (and they must have) that this sort of thing was inevitable. It's not that they were that popular here in the first place, only a sort of a curiosity; something wierd and wacky for the news agencys to report on when the summer news are slow.
posted by severiina at 9:20 AM on August 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hate to beat a dead horse but this isn't a sport. This is the equivalent of two kids punching each other in the arm until someone can't take it anymore.
posted by pibeandres at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was 10 or so, I got third degree burns on my hands and arms up to the elbow from throwing water on the heater in a sauna without using the handled ladle that is there for that express purpose. I still have scars on my arms and hands decades later, and I vividly remember the excruciating and horrible pain that didn't go away for months. I can't even imagine the pain they experienced. It's making me nauseous just thinking about it.

.
posted by gemmy at 9:31 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm totally fascinated by the physical side effects people are willing to put up with in the interest of extreme sports or endurance competitions, like the guy in the previous post who burned his upper lip just because he was breathing through his nose or that other article about extreme marathon runners who have their toes surgically removed.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:36 AM on August 9, 2010


Toenails. They have their toenails removed. Unless you're talking about a different article than the one I've read!
posted by muddgirl at 9:48 AM on August 9, 2010


pibeandres: "66Hate to beat a dead horse but this isn't a sport. This is the equivalent of two kids punching each other in the arm until someone can't take it anymore."

Oh, you mean boxing?
posted by brokkr at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Has anyone ever died at a polar bear plunge?
Yes - but I believe events of this sort are less dangerous for those competitors who are reasonably trained. The immediate danger in immersing yourself in very cold rather tends to happen when the person is panicked: in cold water constricts our veins to conserve heat to the core organs. If you combine that action with an increase in heart rate due to stress you can get a great rise on blood pressure and a danger of heart attack. Providing you are calm and survive the initial immersion then icy cold water will have you unconscious in about 15 minutes and dead within 45. Because people show a number of signs of hypothermia before they loose consciousness there would be a much better chance of organizers being able to get people out of the water before it it was too late. With very hot saunas I am guessing that there is less agreement about what to look out for.
posted by rongorongo at 9:55 AM on August 9, 2010


Toenails. They have their toenails removed.

Yeah, that's what I meant. Although now I'm trying to imagine an extreme sport or competition where complete toe-removal would actually give you an advantage.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:55 AM on August 9, 2010


Is there a German word for how fucking retarded that is?

Aufguss which is a fat naked German man pours water on the hot stones and as the steam rises to the ceiling, he spins his towel over hios head like a helicopter rotor blade so all of that super-heated air comes down on you like boiling rain.

Repeat 3X.
posted by three blind mice at 10:04 AM on August 9, 2010


According to the Humidex calculator, 110°C at 90% humidity feels like 806°C, or about 1200°F.
posted by unSane at 10:11 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


And come on, people - you really never do stupid things just to see if you can? really?

Things this stupid? No. No, I really do not.
posted by ixohoxi at 10:26 AM on August 9, 2010


Oh, you mean boxing?
From the little boxing I've seen it seems to have more technique and strategy (to go along with the beating) than sitting in a hot room while your skin boils. Point taken though.
posted by pibeandres at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2010


Makwa: "Steam is a much more efficient conductor of heat than dry air. These men were damn near boiled. And come on, people - you really never do stupid things just to see if you can? really?"

One time when I was a kid I tried to drink water through my nose. Does that count?
posted by symbioid at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2010


The world's kinda overcrowded at it is.. PLUS there are starving people. So I think while it's sad the old man had to go, why not just take the extra step to baste these morons during the competition? If one of them goes, serve him up to the starving children of the world? It's like the circle of life, or something...
posted by ReeMonster at 10:31 AM on August 9, 2010


Also - thanks to the link about Mannerheim from grapefruitmoon, I found this totally bitchin' recording of Hitler...

It's the only known recording of him in "normal" voice (or "unofficial tone" as they like to call it), instead of that shouty fuehrer thing he likes to do...

Allegedly, this is a transcript in English...
posted by symbioid at 10:31 AM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Although now I'm trying to imagine an extreme sport or competition where complete toe-removal would actually give you an advantage.

Football.
posted by CaseyB at 10:41 AM on August 9, 2010


I have trouble seeing how competitive sauna-ing is any crazier than a lot of other extreme sports

It's all about barriers to entry. Climbing, cave diving, extreme mountain biking, etc. all require extreme amounts of fitness and skill to even get started. The average joe would get smoked in the first twenty seconds doing any of these activities, and few people can afford the logistics anyway.

Any fat-ass schmuck can climb into a sauna, or eat hot dogs or drink gallons of water and kill themselves with little effort. And they will have done so without developing any skill or fitness or finesse or overcoming any obstacles that any other loser coulldn't, with a little luck.
posted by klanawa at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2010


Also - thanks to the link about Mannerheim from grapefruitmoon,

Huh?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2010


(it was one comment up by three blind mice)
posted by Burhanistan at 10:44 AM on August 9, 2010


(and that clip of Hitler speaking in a normal tone is strangely humanizing, for better or worse)
posted by Burhanistan at 10:45 AM on August 9, 2010


I was in a 110°C sauna last weekend. We poured on some water and were only really able to last for 30 second bursts.

It made the 25°C pool water feel heavenly though!
posted by davey_darling at 11:03 AM on August 9, 2010


The key difference I see between, say, extrema sauna-ing and most other 'extreme' (how I hate that word) activities is that the other ones are, y'know, enjoyable.
posted by unSane at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2010


Any fat-ass schmuck can climb into a sauna, or eat hot dogs or drink gallons of water and kill themselves with little effort

I can't believe you actually think that. Normal people have impulses telling them when the body just can't endure anymore. To overcome those impulses takes enormous willpower and training. How many deaths have you actually heard about being caused by excessive sauna? If it was that easy to do it would be a common occurrence.
posted by Catfry at 12:02 PM on August 9, 2010


It's not the heat, it's the humidity.
posted by clearly at 12:05 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is very sad. I was told from a very young boy that sauna is absolutely not a competition.
The local yellow press had some doctor speculating that the competitors may have been taking pain killers.
posted by ikalliom at 12:09 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd guess that about 60-80% of adult finns have been at 110°C sauna at some point of their lives. Most recognize that it is too hot for their taste, better to stick 80-90°C. A competition to stay in 110°C doesn't feel unbearable or dangerous per se.

However, pouring water one litre per minute makes it so much more painful and dangerous experience. Much like the difference between light S/M spanking and medieval scourging. We finns are ok with spanking and we get that some people would enjoy rougher stuff. So they have a competition. For foreigners, it looks like a competition of who gets most scourged. Cannot do much about it, except to suggest that you too might enjoy little spanking, you should try.

I'm a mild person and dislike extremes, but extreme heat and cold are sometimes so refreshing and invigorating, things that make you feel your body as a living, self-sustaining and adjusting whole. -110°C cold room, 4°C water, 140°C sauna, been there, felt great (afterwards at least).
posted by Free word order! at 12:50 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


One revelation to me on visiting Finland was finding saunas adjoining office boardrooms. I love the idea of a country where people relieve the tensions of tedious corporate politics by stripping naked,hitting each other with twigs and then running out into the snow to cool off. Sadly I gather that the practice is getting more rare since Finnish saunas are normally single sex and Finnish boardrooms are now usually not.

Finns also like to give birth in saunas. More information if you are interested.
posted by rongorongo at 1:31 PM on August 9, 2010


MetaFilter: suggest that you too might enjoy little spanking, you should try.
posted by hippybear at 1:46 PM on August 9, 2010


How many deaths have you actually heard about being caused by excessive sauna? If it was that easy to do it would be a common occurrence.

So this was the Sauna equivalent of a perfect game?
posted by mazola at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


A point was being made that competitive sauna-going is different from other extreme sports because any untrained fool can do it and be killed, as opposed to other extreme sports where only trained and dedicated people get killed. I was just saying the point doesn't work.
posted by Catfry at 1:59 AM on August 10, 2010


I think the difference is one of risk avoidance.

There are some things that will definitely kill or seriously injure you. One is falling a long way while climbing a treacherous mountain. Another is getting gored by bulls in bull-running. Another being exposed to whole-body steam burns.

In mountain climbing and bull-running, one takes intentional measures (such as using safety equipment, running away) to avoid the thing that causes injury (falling/being gored).

On the other hand, in competitive sauna, no measures are taken to avoid the thing that causes injury.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:05 AM on August 10, 2010


Timo Kaukonen will be a national hero in Finland

Um, no.

Sauna is such a wonderful, beautiful tradition. As fellow MeFinns and others in the know have already pointed out, the whole idea is to find your own rhythm, unwind and relax. Sure, you can come across the occasional (usually older) dude who takes it as a challenge to make you suffer and outlast you (especially if you're a foreigner) but generally, that kind of jackassery will be met with smirks.

Sauna has been central to the culture for no-one knows how long, complete with traditions, rituals and folklore. Both my maternal grandparents were born in one. After the Winter war in 1939-40 the village my grandma lived in was handed over to the USSR; when they were able to return there for a while during the Continuation War, the very first thing everybody rebuilt was the sauna. The average Finn still goes to sauna 1,5 times a week. I've taken my babies with me ever since they were infants. It's not a sport.

The background of the whole fiasco is that for a couple of decades now, organizing odd world championships (be it Wife Carrying, Boot Throwing or Air Guitar) have been some kind of shtick for Finns, and a way to garner (inter)national media attention to your backwater town or event. Which is fine by me (and I can even sort of get behind the idea of Cell Phone Throwing anyway), but the sauna competition was just stupid, a bit of a freak show and a terrible idea to begin with.

That said, at nearly 90, my grandma could still out-sauna any one of you. And she's a beast with those birch branches.
posted by sively at 9:28 AM on August 10, 2010


I've been thinking about this ever since it happened. I don't think the participants received their burns from the steam -- the pain would have been so intense that painkillers or not they would have been out of the door -- but from the floor when they fell on it because their core temp had risen so high their brains started to misfire, and they could no longer make it to safety. Just a guess but it made sense to me.

In any case a recklessly dangerous competition. It appears the safety procedures were completely reactive, and no-one had given a thought to what would happen if the contestants were too hot to touch. I bet they had no chance of getting an IV in either.
posted by unSane at 7:34 PM on August 10, 2010


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