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The World Sauna Championships were an actual contest for endurance held in Finland, from 1999-2010
As per BBC: The tournament originated from unofficial sauna-sitting competitions Heinola. The competition grew to feature contestants from over 20 countries.
But before you get too excited, let’s not forget the dark side of the competition. All participants took part at their own peril and had to sign a waiver that essentially absolved the organizers of any responsibility. Tragically, the event came to an abrupt halt after a fatal accident involving one competitor and near-death of another in the 2010 championship. This led to the unfortunate cancellation of the championship.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Who in their right mind would participate in a Sauna Championship?” Well, it’s a strange world we live in. Extreme sauna bathing poses a significant health risk, yet some daredevils still took part in this wild event. But they did so at their own risk and signed a legal document saying they wouldn’t sue the organizers if things went wrong.
So, what happened?
It was in August, 2010. It was a dark day for the sauna world as Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy, a rugged Russian wrestler in his golden years, met his untimely demise at the infamous annual sauna competition in the Finnish town of Heinola.
In a scene straight out of a horror movie, Ladyzhenskiy and reigning champion Timo Kaukonen of Finland were yanked out of the sauna by medical workers, just six minutes into the final round. The two were convulsing and covered in blood, having suffered severe burns in the intense heat. The ‘sport’ calls for participants to endure temperatures up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit in a room heated by boiling water being splashed onto a blazing stove.
Nearly 1,000 shocked spectators looked on as medical workers frantically tried to save the two men, who were in the midst of a brutal battle in the sweltering sauna. Photographer Hakon Eikesdal of the Norwegian daily Dagbladet was on hand to capture the chilling scene.