Monday, 9 July 2012

Weird Finnish Sports

Last Saturday, the World Wife-Carrying Championship took place in Sonkajärvi, Finland.

A Finn won it. Again.

Finns do excel at bizarre summer sports, it has to be said.

I am not talking about the ridiculous activities, such as mosquito-swatting, or down-right dangerous ones such as sauna endurance. I am talking about real, proper sports. Strange sports, but sports nonetheless.
Here are my 5 favourite ones...


Invented in Finland, wife-carrying involves men racing each other while carrying a petite woman (not necessarily their wife).

If the sport had been invented in Italy, it would be a romantic affair, but this is a Finnish sport, perfected by Estonians (who introduced the technique of carrying the "wife" upside down), so let's say it's more pragmatic than chivalrous.

Check out how the 2012 world-champion is totally indifferent to the fact that his "wife" is drowning as he crosses the ford. Mind you, he is a lawyer.

Swamp Football

Playing soccer knee-deep in mud is obviously a very silly idea. But it wasn't actually a Finnish idea originally: the sport was invented in England. However, to their credit, the Finns saw the immense potential of the sport and adopted it whole-heartedly. They organised the first world championship in 2000, and it now takes place every year in the Vuorisuo bog in Hyrynsalmi.

Mobile Throwing

Dorothy Parker famously said: "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

I am sure we have all had the temptation to do that with our mobile phone at one time or another, but I suppose most of us have never dared. However, the Finns have turned that frustration into a sport...

Snowmobile Sailing

This is only one of the sports featured in this post that I have actually seen with my own eyes, in Ivalo in Lapland in 2009.

The premise is simple: take a vehicle designed to travel fast on snow, and use it on a river instead. Skidoos are not actually meant to go on water as they do not float. However, if ridden (or sailed) fast enough, a snowmobile can race across the surface of the water. Of course, if the engine stalls...


This is another sport originating elsewhere (North-America), but adopted by Finland. It is the most comical looking sport featured here in my opinion. It simply involves people standing on a log on a river, and rolling it backwards and forwards to get the other people on the log to fall off. The winner is the last person standing. A championship is held annually near Ruka, in almost-Lapland.

I know, it's only log-roll, but I like it.

Anyhow, all these weird sports beg a question: why are there so many of them in Finland?

Is it because the Finns are inherently eccentric? Is it because Finns want to have summer sports they are actually good at (joking)? Or is it simply that little towns across Finland have found a clever way to put their name on the map and make a quick euro by organising weird championships?


  1. They also apparently are pretty big on chess-boxing in Finland.

    1. We have that in the UK also! I thought Finns favoured outside sports, where they can commune with nature and get bitten by insects...

    2. Speaking of insects you forgot the annual and totally peta-friendly mosquito killing contest.

    3. Well, I am arguing at the start of this blog that mosquito swatting is more of an activity or pastime than a sport. Besides, I mentioned this in the previous post, on the subject of mosquitoes (

  2. Boot throwing > mobile throwing !

  3. HA HA HA HA HA...I LOVE that log-rolling championship. Never heard about that, though. Anyway, I vote on their being eccentric. :-D :-D :-D

    1. I have to say I am rather proud of "I know, it's only log-roll, but I like it"...

  4. The snowmobile water skipping isn't a Finnish invention at all. I remember reading someplace that it would have been invented by canadian hunters, having to cross open while travelling on ice...

    "The Grantsburg, Wisconsin first annual World Championship Snowmobile Watercross was held in July 1977 and it has been held annual on the third week of July since.[4] The first race was simply held to see who could make it the 300 feet (91 m) from the island on Memory Lake to the shore.[2] Most didn't, but the winner did go about 500 ft (150 m). In the years following, racers became more skilled and the machines more powerful. Today they race both drags and ovals with an eight-lap championship run. Over 100 racers compete in the various classes. The Classes range from the beginners' Stock Drags to the top Pro-Open Ovals Class. Competitive watercross is run by two main circuits. The IWA (International Watercross Association) operates mainly in the Midwest, while the EWA (Eastern Watercross Association) operates in the Northeastern States. [3]

    In most cases, participants in watercross strip their snowmobiles of all non-essential parts—including the seat—in order to save weight."

  5. And they call us rednecks for stuff like this in the U.S. lol Wife Carry is popular in Maine, also. Sunday River has a championship annually.

  6. I vote for Finns being eccentric, too. Because every Finn I know (myself included) is eccentric in their own way. We joke about it in our family a bit. If someone tells me that I'm crazy, or that someone in my family is crazy, I usually just tell them: "It's genetic."