Obscure Sports: Extreme Ironing

Some people like to do bungee jumping, others go climbing. The really wild ones out there fancy a bit of sky diving or parachuting. However, I bet most adrenalin junkies will never have considered Extreme Ironing, a craze that some adventure seekers have initiated across the world.

Creator Phil Shaw says the activity “combines the thrill of an extreme sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt”. And those who decide whether to flick the settings to silk, wool or cotton do so in the most bizarre places, say up a mountainside, in a canoe, whilst skiing or even in the middle of the M1. Though most participants take a rather tongue-in-cheek approach to their beloved sport, there is also a competitive edge to getting rid of those creases, indeed the first World Championships was held in 2002. Ten Nations took part in 5 Championship sectors, urban, water, forest, rocky or freestyle and competitors were tested on their ability to cope with five arduous ironing tests. Prizes included holidays in Hawaii, washing machines and other household goods that players could attempt to turn into new extreme sports. With competitors judged on their ability to remove the creases, as well as their creative skills, Great Britain in fact picked up first prize in the team event. Maybe the footballers should take note.

Shaw himself, has embarked on world tours in order to promote the sport and he finally achieved international recognition after a Channel 4 documentary was released, entitled Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory. Believe it or not, it has turned into an increasingly popular jaunt internationally, as people try and beat the record for most bizarre location to undertake extreme ironing. Indeed check out this video that shows some of Britain’s best abseiling down waterfalls, potholing and even jet skiing, while trying to ensure their handkerchiefs are pristine for the morning.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njHE4S-HD3I&feature=player_embedded#!

Unfortunately, as the sport grows into the international arena, it has become yet another case of the English inventing the sport and being overtaken by their foreign rivals who turn out to be far more skilful at it than us Brits, despite our obsession with the perfect shirt. Next time anyone settles to do the ironing in the bedroom, or somewhere as blasé as in front of the TV, just remember where you could be doing it…

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