The Olympics are over. I am genuinely sad when they extinguish the flame. I am somewhat of an Olympics junky. I don’t have pictures of Shaun White hanging over my bed. Not for lack of trying. I blame my wife; she’s such a Red Gerard fan! But, I do enjoy the spirit of the games.
Ordinarily, I would return to hibernation and wait out the two years until the Summer games begin. I am so ready for the 2020 Marvel Themed Olympics! Taking place in Tokyo, complete with Super Hero Mascots.
But, by golly, this year none of us have to wait two years. Thanks to the strange and enlightened Fins! Not to be confused with drunken Parrot Heads. Whom, I also adore. In fact, I might be willing to concede my poster of Shaun for one of Jimmy Buffet. That is if I can get permission from Senior Leadership. She does hold the rights to 50% of the ceiling space. Darn Red Gerard!
Thankfully, the people of Finland have answered my Olympic fever dreams. They have provided the world with Eukonkanto sometimes spelled Akankanto. The Estonian’s call it, Naisekandmine and the Swedish call it kärringkånk. In English, it is simply called Wife-Carrying!
The 2018 year’s games take place in Sonkajärvi, Finland where the game was invented. It runs from 06 Jul, 2018 7:00am – 07 Jul, 2018 10:00pm. This is how the Finn’s write it, who am I modify it? To my knowledge, they do not have mascots. But, honestly, a prestigious event such as this is above such mere frivolities.
The first question on your mind, I am sure, is, “are there prizes?” Well of course. That is your first question. Right? I am happy to oblige. Contestants do not win mere gold, silver, and bronze necklaces. No. They received real bona-fide prizes. Plural!
The top prizes vary. At the World Level. The winning couple always receives the wife’s weight in beer, a bag full of wife carrying products (whatever that might be) and a statue with “wife carrying motif.” I don’t choose the prizes, I just report on them.
I find this choice of prizes interesting. For one it encourages the wife to gain weight. Obviously, resulting in a higher quantity of beer for the winners. You see, there is some real sciency-stuff to consider here. However, higher weight also impacts the ability to complete the challenging course. It makes a Tough-Mudder look like a stroll in a park with a Bichon Frise in your man purse.
Beyond the science, there is also some good old-fashioned economics. Now, before anyone starts throwing bowls of Lohikeitto or heaps of vispipuuro at our Finnish brethren, I must tell you. This event takes place around the world. So, NO Fin-Bashing!
For example, in Maine this past year the 18th annual event was won by a couple from Virginia. Consider that for a moment. Virginia to Maine! That’s nearly 900 miles! Keeping a wagon wheel true for that length of time is a feat in itself. But, when the couple arrived, they were still able to compete and take top prize. In Maine’s North American finals, that prize was 12 cases of beer and a check for five times the winning wife’s weight, in pounds.
That means the couple took home $630! I’ll let you do the math. As you can see, when cold hard cash is on the line, it is even more tempting to eat a few bowls of Kaalilaatikko or sneak some Piparkakku cookies before the big race. The couple’s winning of the 250-meter obstacle course qualifies them to compete in this year’s Finnish Games.
Of course, $630 probably will not cover the airfare to Sonkajärvi. But, the pure excitement of competing against 6-time reigning champions Taisto Mietinen and Kristiina Haapanen is worth far more than mere pesos! I am rooting for them. Could Virginia be the 2018 Miracle In Mud? Stay tuned to find out! USA, USA, USA!
If the prizes were not your first question, then someone must have poured you a Lakka! We forgive you. That’s strong stuff. I suppose some of you are wondering what the race is all about. For starters, it is steeped in tradition. There are variations on the tale. But, at its core it involves robbers!
There is a 19th-century legend that recounts the tale of a team of forest-dwellers. They would sneak into people’s homes at night, kidnap women, and carry them into the woods. Their leader was Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen. A name that just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
In modern times, it is an obstacle course. Similar to a tough mudder, but as I pointed out much tougher. See man purse above, in case you missed it. Several types of carries may be employed. There is the time-tested piggyback, preferred mostly by losers of the big race. A fireman’s carry, which is often employed by those inspired by late night Finnish Uber drivers trying to extricate inebriated contestants at 2:35 AM, the night before the games.
Traditionalists tend to stick to the Estonian-style. Whereas, the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband’s shoulders, holding onto his waist. Color commentators often refer to this as Kamasutra style. Ok, I don’t really know if they do, but if Johnny Weir were hosting these games, he would have my back on that one!
There are many rules around winning the race. In fact, too many to mention them all here. There are, however, limits to “equipment.” For example, the carrier is allowed a belt, to protect the eyes of spectators should slippage occur, ala February 1, 2004. Darn you JT! The carried are provisioned an optional helmet to protect their recently quaffed hair. The carried wife must also weigh at least 49KG. If she does not, “she will be burdened with a rucksack containing additional weight to bring the total load to be carried up to 49 kg.”
My favorite rule, right out of the rule-book, “ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST ENJOY THEMSELVES!” If that does not sum up the spirit of these games, during these difficult times, I don’t know what does.
No, the Eukonkanto is not for the faint of heart or weak of lower body strength; or for anyone severely lacking a sense of humor. If you crave a little Olympic spirit between IOC sanctioned games, then pull on your knickerbockers, smocks, and headbands. Buckle up your shoes and prepare for the 2018 Eukonkanto Games!
As for me, I am going to try and convince my wife to . . . What’s that? “Take part in the games,” you say? Voi tappaa, No! I am just asking for some space in the fridge for some Sinevrychoff Beer and a spot above the bed for my new Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen poster!
This article is dedicated to my 10-year old daughter, Nya. She insisted I write about it after we saw highlights on YouTube when we were searching for Pyeongchang Highlights! Also, no Bichon Frise’s were injured during the research of this piece.
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