August 09, 2010

World Sauna Championships End with Death of Finalist: The annual World Sauna Championships in Finland will no longer be held after this year's final ended with the death of one of the finalists. Russian Vladimir Ladyzhensky, competing to stay in a 230 degree Fahrenheit sauna for as long as possible, collapsed after suffering severe burns and died in a hospital. The event had been held since 1999, but organizers said it would never be held again. Background on the event is available from ESPN Magazine and a short documentary on YouTube. "We went in, and it was so instantly, shockingly, insanely hot, my brain just stopped working," writes Rick Reilly, who competed in 2006. "It was like walking into a bonfire and pulling up a chair in the middle of it."

posted by rcade to extreme at 11:21 AM - 14 comments

Paging Darwin Award're needed here.

posted by TheQatarian at 12:22 PM on August 09, 2010

Why would you turn a relaxing activity into a competitive event?

posted by kokaku at 12:28 PM on August 09, 2010

If you're gonna be dumb, you'd better be tough!

posted by BikeNut at 12:32 PM on August 09, 2010

There is no cure for stupid. This should have been a predictable outcome for anybody with a brain.

posted by Atheist at 03:24 PM on August 09, 2010

Why would you turn a relaxing activity into a competitive event?

Like eating a hot dog? Because there is no end to the stupidity of what people will do and what other people will pay to watch them do.

posted by graymatters at 04:11 PM on August 09, 2010

Temperature in sauna was 110C (230F). Water boils at about 100C (212F). So if you want to try this, just fill your bathtub with boiling water and jump in.

But then perhapas this is a dry heat. So set your oven at its lowest setting and crawl in.

posted by graymatters at 04:20 PM on August 09, 2010

The traditional Finnish sauna uses some water, but not a lot of it. They pride themselves on that. They scoff at what they call "steam baths". At least the old Finnish guys I know do.

They also go for in and out cycles, in the heat, out in the cold, repetitively. I have to say, rolling around naked in the snow on a dark winter night (if no nearby lake is available to jump into) is invigorating.

But this business with the competition is insane. I, too, though of competitive eating when I read the story. I think I have a whole new appreciation for the Coney Island Hot Dog contest. People throw up here and there, and act irrational (Kobayashi, 2010), but nobody dies.

I'm amazed that the locals were shocked when a death finally occurred.

posted by beaverboard at 04:44 PM on August 09, 2010

. His forehead, his lips and his ears were giant lumps of pus. His triceps were riddled with pebble-size blisters, dozens of them.

If things like this don't discourage someone from competing, what would?

posted by bperk at 04:51 PM on August 09, 2010

So, it's 105 F here in Dallas today, so I'm supposed to want to sit in a small room with sweaty guys in over twice this heat...don't think so.

From Reilly's story it seems as though there are numerous contestants that require medical attention each year. Maybe the Finns just have a death wish that the rest of us can't comprehend.

posted by dviking at 05:36 PM on August 09, 2010

Ah, I try not to have a complete knee-jerk opinion of something I only just heard of. I guess I am getting older, but it's a good idea and I highly recommend it.

After reading about it, my question is - how is this the FIRST death? Good lord, I think I'd rather be waterboarded. But I don't like saunas.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:03 PM on August 09, 2010

This is one of those things best left to friendly competitions that spontaneously happen between a couple friends, not a planned competition that people take seriously. I'm not saying either is a great idea, but an annual competition just has deadly written all over it. Kudos for them for putting a stop to it though, regardless if it should never have happened or not.

And yes, I was involved in such a friendly competition last time I was staying at a hotel. I came in 2nd as I couldn't stand the boredom of sitting doing nothing...

posted by Andy1087 at 06:05 PM on August 09, 2010

The ESPN link was great. I cannot believe that someone could stand being a sauna at that temperature for twelve and a half minutes. I hate being in a regular sauna for only a few minutes.

Just goes to show that you can make a competition out of just about anything. Extreme ironing anyone?

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:37 PM on August 09, 2010

I hate saunas, too and have never seen the need for them. Mind you I played badminton last night in a non air-conditioned converted warehouse here in Phnom Penh.

posted by owlhouse at 12:06 AM on August 10, 2010

Rick Reilly has written about this year's tragedy in light of his own experience.

posted by rcade at 12:48 PM on August 11, 2010

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