The World Sauna Championships Continue their Reign of Terror

August 9, 2010

Competitive sauna sitting has become one of the most dangerous sports in the developed world. With a fatality rate of 50 percent in this year’s championship round, perhaps it’s time start asking the tough questions. Like, you know, why is there a World Sauna Championship?

In this year’s title bout  - which took place in the sauna-rich nation of Finland - two men entered a 230 degree chamber of death in order to win some prize money and the respect of that creepy old guy who reads pornography in the YMCA steam room.

230 degrees may seem a tad warm to most people, but the Finnish Sauna society insists that this is a typical, if not normal, temperature.

“I know this is very hard to understand to people outside Finland who are not familiar with the sauna habit. It is not so unusual to have 110 degrees [Celsius] in a sauna. A lot of competitors before have sat in higher temperatures than that," an event organizer told the BBC.

After six minutes of excruciating heat, the final two participants suffered severe burns and were rushed to the emergency room. The Finnish competitor and reigning world champion retained his title on a count of “not being the one who died,” while his Russian adversary is now enjoying a “good sweat” in the afterlife thanks to sauna-inspired medical complications.

Following the tragedy, organizers admitted that the 11-year-old competition might have been a bad idea.

“The event, which had over 130 participants from 15 countries, had been held since 1999. The organizers said it would never be held again,” the BBC reported.

Yes, who could have imagined that having a group of men try to outlast each other in subhuman temperatures could have possibly ended badly?

Photo: Sari Gustaffson/AFP/Getty Images