World Sauna Championships Tragically Ends In Death Of A Finalist

Aug 9th, 2010 | By healthnews | Category: Health

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Main Category: Sports Medicine / Fitness
Also Included In: Dermatology;  Public Health
Article Date: 08 Aug 2010 – 10:00 PDT

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One of the finalists, Vladimir Ladyzhensky (Russian) at the World Sauna Championships, Heinola, Finland, died, and another finalist, Timo Kaukonen (Finn) collapsed after suffering burns. The Championships, which originated from unofficial sauna-sitting competitions and were eventually banned from a swimming hall in Heinola, have been held in Heinola annually since 1999.

Today, about 130 contestants from over 20 countries participate in the competition.

The organizers said that after this tragedy, they do not expect any future championships to be held. Sauna bathing to extremes is a severe and sometimes life-threatening health risk. All competitors had to sign a form stating that they would not take legal action against the organizers.

The Finnish Sauna Society has always been staunchly against this annual event.

Event chief organizer, Ossi Arvela, said in a press statement:

All the rules were followed and there were enough first aid personnel. All the competitors needed to sign in to the competition with a doctor’s certificate.

During the competition, people sit in a sauna, half a litre of water is added to the stove every 30 seconds – the last one able to walk out unaided is the winner.

The starting temperature in the men’s competition is 110C (230F) – much higher than typical saunas, which rarely go over 80C. The competition is dominated and usually won by a Finn. The first non-Finnish winner in the women’s competition was Natallia Tryfanava from Belarus in 2003.

In this year’s championship, Russian finalist and former third-place finisher Vladimir Ladyzhensky and Finnish five-time champion Timo Kaukonen, passed out after seven minutes in the sauna, both suffering from terrible burns and trauma. Ladyzhensky died on route to hospital. Kaukonen is said to be in a critical but stable condition.

Written by Christian Nordqvist

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