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Sports you’ve never heard of: Extreme Ironing

For those of you who really enjoy a neatly pressed shirt and for those of you who really enjoy extreme outdoor activities, but have never been able to combine them, your time has finally come! For more than a decade the semi-professional sport of extreme ironing has been growing in popularity. According to the website www.extremeironing.com, “It all started in the city of Leicester in the UK, in the summer of 1997. When mild-mannered Steam returned home after a long day in the knitwear factory, the last thing he wanted to do was start on a pile of ironing. The sun was shining and Phil preferred the idea of an evening out pursuing his (somewhat unsuccessful) hobby of rock climbing. Then it occurred to him to combine these activities into an extreme sport – the result: extreme ironing.”

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by Chris Bonshor (Copy Editor)

For those of you who really enjoy a neatly pressed shirt and for those of you who really enjoy extreme outdoor activities, but have never been able to combine them, your time has finally come!

For more than a decade the semi-professional sport of extreme ironing has been growing in popularity. According to the website www.extremeironing.com, It all started in the city of Leicester in the UK, in the summer of 1997. When mild-mannered Steam returned home after a long day in the knitwear factory, the last thing he wanted to do was start on a pile of ironing. The sun was shining and Phil preferred the idea of an evening out pursuing his (somewhat unsuccessful) hobby of rock climbing. Then it occurred to him to combine these activities into an extreme sport – the result: extreme ironing.”

Extreme ironing is “an outdoor activity that combines the danger and excitement of an ‘extreme’ sport with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt.” It involves taking an iron and board (if possible) to remote locations and ironing a few items of laundry. This can involve ironing on a mountainside, preferably on a difficult climb, or taking an iron skiing, snowboarding or canoeing.

On the website, one can find examples of members ironing underwater, while in trees, on rock faces and even on glaciers. In fact, there is even a gallery devoted to the extreme ironer known as “Siltkicker,” who combined extreme ironing with bog snorkelling (our feature from a few weeks ago).

In an odd twist, you can also play the sport from the comfort of your own home. This is thanks to the crazy video game developers at Sega, who have included extreme ironing in the Wii game Wacky World of Sports. While it is kind of silly to have an extreme game playable indoors, in my opinion, this will at least allow you to cut your teeth, metaphorically, before you try the real thing. In addition, the bureau suggests that you try ironing in your backyard before moving to more challenging terrain.

Currently, this sport is most popular in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. However, the website does say that the extreme ironing bureau is looking for new clubs internationally. This means that you, dear reader, could start a local club and propel yourself to international-niche-sport history!

Imagine it! If you have a supple wrist and a penchant for doing crazy things outside, you could probably become the Tiger Woods of extreme ironing (which might be a good or bad thing if you think about it). To join, all you have to do is bring your iron, board, some wrinkly clothes and a camera with you into the wild. Get some pictures and submit them.

But you have to ask yourself, in a world of steam pressers, dry-cleaning, Maytag washer and dryers and wrinkle-resistant-fabric, why do we need to iron at all? My wife theorizes that because we no longer need to iron, extreme ironing is evidence of a visceral reaction to technological advances by those who still believe in arcane technologies like the iron. These people look around and see their world crumbling around them (or lacking irons, at least). In a last ditch effort to get people to think about irons again, they have decided to do what many other sports have done: make it extreme. Extreme ironing can be seen as an attempt to appeal to the culturally-bankrupt youth of today, by promoting the hard work and values of a by-gone generation (or at least an attempt to make irons appear relevant and fun).

If this sounds like you or someone you know, then I urge you to take up your iron, hiking boots and ironing board, and show the world that you will not be stopped! As the great Doctor used to say, Allons-y!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Joel

    April 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Ahahaha!! NICK that is HILARIOUS. Thanks for sharing… I loved the serious drone of the newscaster’s voice as she’s describing the ridiculousness of the sport. “combines the thrill of danger with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.” Ahaha!

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