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Sports You Did Not Know Existed: Extreme Ironing

Eirik Bjorno Staff Writer



Are you tired of ironing your shirts? Do you feel ironing does not challenge you just as much as it did back when you were 14? Well, then Extreme Ironing might help bring the spark back.

It is no secret that ironing is one of the household things you try to avoid at all costs. Nothing is as boring as putting up the ironing board and ironing your clothes after you washed them. Still, it is necessary. We felt the same way about do- ing our dishes by hand, so we developed the dishwashing machine, but we have not found a satisfying way of making ironing easier. What do we do when we can’t make things easier? We challenge ourselves and make it harder.

Yet again we cross the Atlantic Ocean and find the purists of the sport in the United Kingdom. In 1997 Phil Shaw came home from a long day at work, and had planned a day out rock climbing, but a stack of shirts needed to be ironed before he could leave. That’s when he realized, why don’t just combine the two activities and make it into an extreme sport? In June 1999 Shaw had developed the idea enough to head on an international tour to promote the sport.

The concept is simple; you bring an iron board, an iron and a shirt that has wrinkles to a remote location and iron the clothing. Some of the locations where such performance has taken place include in a canoe, while skiing, in the middle of the M1 Motorway and whilst parachuting. Still many claim the ulti- mate Extreme Ironing experience is bun- gee jumping ironing.

In 2002 the first, and the only known, Extreme Ironing World Championship took place in a small village near Munich in Germany. Competitors from 10 different nations competed for the first Championship title. The competition was divided into five different categories, and the contestants were supposed to find the most creative ways in each of the five chal- lenging environments. The judges test the teams on creative ironing skills as well as the creases in the clothing. Urban, Water, Forest, Rocky and Freestyle were the five environments used to crown the first world champion. It was the British team who took the title home winning a trip to Hawaii, washing machines and other household supplies in the process. The Extreme Ironing Bureau, EIB, is now in charge of approving world record attempts, and hands out the awards and recognition to Extreme Ironers all over the world. In 2011 William Hinton was recognized for his ironing along the Appalachian Trail on the American East Coast, and in 2003 the Rowenta Trophy was awarded to a group from South Africa for ironing across a gorge at the Wolfberg Cracks.

If you want to bring your ironing to the next level, you can submit your pictures to the EIB and other more local Extreme Ironing Organizations for the chance to take home other awards. In New York, the Hudson Valley Hikers have started the first Extreme Ironing USA division. They have al- ready had their first tryout to make the team, and will host more throughout the spring. They require that you bring your own irons, ironing board and a long enough extension cord. They hike around in the area and take spectacular pictures. Please visit for more information.

If you want to prepare for the tryouts in your local community, bring out you ironing board and start choosing more challenging locations for your Sunday morning ironing ritual. The roof of the garage, on top of your moving car or on the local playground could be appropriate places to start. Just remember to have a long enough extension cord, enough wrinkled shirts and as always; don’t mix alcohol with extreme ironing.

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