Extreme ironing

From Academic Kids

Extreme Ironing (or EI) is an extreme sport in which people take an ironing board to a remote location and iron a few items of clothing.

Missing image
Starch irons atop Rivelin Needle near Sheffield, England.

Extreme ironing locations include a mountainside of a difficult climb; a forest; in a canoe; while skiing or snowboarding; on top of large bronze statues; in the middle of a street; even when free-diving, though this possibility defeats the purpose of ironing. The ironing itself has variations: either solo or in a group; ironing in existing formations or freestyle.

EI supposedly combines the excitement of an extreme sport with the satisfaction of freshly ironed clothes. Though it seems a parody or hoax, many extreme ironers take their sport quite seriously. The Guardian said of extreme ironing that it carries on a tradition of British eccentricity. Many organised EI events are now sponsored by the household appliance manufacturer Rowenta.



The sport was started in Leicester, East Midlands, England by resident Phil Shaw in his back yard. EI, however, is no longer localized to Great Britain. In June 1999, Shaw, who goes by the EI nickname "Steam", embarked on an international tour to promote the sport. The stops included the United States of America, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Southern Africa. An encounter with German tourists in New Zealand led to the founding of the Extreme Ironing Bureau, and the German Extreme Ironing Section or GEIS.

Missing image
Phil Shaw, known as 'Steam' in extreme ironing world, founded the sport in 1997.

In September of 2002, the first World Championship for the sport took place in Valley, Germany, near Munich. Organized by the German Extreme Ironing Section, the 1st Extreme Ironing World Championships were considered a success, drawing international media attention. Competitors from Austria, Australia, Croatia, Chile, Germany, the UK and other countries participated. The competition included eighty different teams from ten different countries.

Since the sport's invention, there has been the formation of an alleged breakaway group, Urban Housework. This has been considered unethical by some Extreme Ironers, as it alters the environment, disrupting the natural decay of plant matter to help re-fertilize the earth.

A documentary, appropriately entitled Extreme Ironing, was filmed for Britain's Channel 4 in December 2002.

In 2003 the Rowenta Trophy was won by a group from South Africa by ironing across a gorge at the Wolfberg Cracks. Later that year, Phil Shaw brought out a book, also entitled Extreme Ironing (ISBN 1843305550). The following year saw the release of a dvd titled Ironing Under the Sky (ASIN: B0007ODWO0), which was produced by Hot Under the Collar Productions.

In 2004, the EIB traveled to the US on the Rowenta Tour to recruit additional ironists and ironed at Mount Rushmore, New York, Boston and Devil's Tower. The tour culminated in an interview nation-wide on Good Morning America.

Suggestions of Olympic eligiblity

Following the 2004 Summer Olympics, five-time Olympic gold medalist Sir Steve Redgrave backed extreme ironing to become an Olympic sport. "It is a fantastic sport. It's a little bizarre in some respect, but in a few years' time, rowing could be chopped from the Olympics and extreme ironing could be in!"

Extreme Ironing founder, Steam adds: "Although, Sir Steve obviously wasn't really proposing the demise of rowing as an Olympic sport, it's still fantastic to get the backing of arguably Britain's finest ever athlete. And you never know, it might see the start of a new style of extreme ironing with competitors balanced on rowing boats."

In defence of these opinions Steam asks doubters to consider synchronised swimming and its status as an Olympic sport. For that matter, adds Fabulon (an Australian Extreme Ironist) take a look at the sport of curling - if THAT can be a Winter Olympic sport, Extreme Ironing has no problem in being recognised.

World Records

A recent development of the sport has been setting Extreme Ironing World Records. This trend began when a couple of British ironists ironed at Base Camp One on Mount Everest. The record was promptly taken by South African Yster for ironing at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro (5,859m). The record for ironing at altitude is now held by Iron Man Carrick, who ironed at the summit of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina (6959m). The Hot Plate Brothers also tried to match the record, but failed to reach the summit.

The extreme ironing underwater depth record is held by British ironist Dive Girl, for ironing 100 metres underwater off the coast of Egypt. In January 2005, a group of Australian scuba divers snatched the underwater group extreme ironing world record from a team of Kiwis when 43 ironists ironed underwater. The record has since been challenged by the Kiwis as they didn't dive more than five metres.

In April 2004, Crease Lightnin' set the extreme ironing London Marathon record for taking full extreme ironing equipment around the course of the marathon and ironing a couple of items on the way. The Leeds ironist completed the marathon in 4 hours and 8 minutes.

The longest ever garment ironed under extreme conditions was completed by extreme ironing founder Phil Shaw (Steam) in December 2003 in Leicester, the birthplace of the sport, when he ironed in a David Blaine-style box 20 metres above bemused Christmas shoppers.

References in popular culture

On the August 2, 2004 episode of EastEnders, EI was referenced. According to the EIB, the characters made reference to the current altitude record holders.

"As the party loving Kat and Zoe Slater are preparing to go out, they are invited to the launch party at Angie's Den by a couple of 'media types'. The pair say that there'd be celebrities in the shape of the Hot Plate Brothers there."

Extreme Ironing has been featured in news stories on CBS Sunday Morning, in The New York Times, The Sun, The Sydney Morning Herald, Calcutta Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Toronto Star, TIME Magazine, ESPN.com, The Financial Times and many other places.

"Extreme sport" offspring

External links

ja:エクストリーム・アイロン掛け zh:极限烫衣


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