FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Estonia, Kiiking

Feb 1, 2012
2012 / February 2012

In summer, northern Europeans are prone to go a little bit crazy. It’s probably the long winter that does it: the endless nights; the short, twi-lit days. Huddled indoors, they have plenty of time to think about all the stuff they’ll get to as soon as their part of the Earth tilts back toward the sun.

When, at last, their surroundings are transformed by golden warmth, there is only a limited window of opportunity in which to put their pent-up schemes into action.

Would it, for instance, be possible to drive a snowmobile across an unfrozen lake? Come the first flush of summer, they try it. It turns out it is possible, with sufficient run-up and enough speed (though nobody has tallied how many rusting snowmobiles lie at the bottom of Icelandic lakes from the early attempts).

Can you play soccer in a peat bog? Every June, there is a championship held in Finland proving that you can, though not easily. Or cleanly. You’ll never see a laundry detergent commercial offering to get the stains out of uniforms after a swamp soccer match.

It was within this northern tradition of nutty pipedreams that, in 1996, an Estonian, Ado Kosk, conceived a new sport. Or rather, he revived and formalized an old one, for it seems that Estonians have been kiiking for centuries.

The Estonian language is impenetrable at the best of times. To outsiders, kiiking could refer to … well, just about anything. With a little folkloric research, you will discover that a kiik is a traditional wooden swing. What sets an Estonian swing apart from the childhood swings we’re familiar with is that it dangles from rigid arms, usually made from wood.

But how does a humble swing become the basis for a mad northern European sport?

Kosk’s brainwave was to realize that if the swing’s frame was substantially heightened, and if the wooden arms were replaced with steel, then in theory it would be possible to swing 360 degrees: You would be able to swing right over the top and come back down the other side.

Theory was put into practice in the village of Viimsi, on the shore of the Baltic Sea northeast of Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. The pioneers honed the equipment and devised the techniques necessary to generate sufficient momentum.

The kiiker stands with feet securely strapped to the swing and sweeps back and forth like a metronome, using the entire body to maintain the rhythm, squatting like a skier on the back swing and straightening up on the follow-through.

The swing rises a little higher each time until it is almost vertical above the frame. At this point, the kiiker reaches heights of 30 or 40 feet, depending on the length of the swing’s arms.

The tension builds. A couple of times the swing is momentarily stationary above the frame, with the kiiker perilously upside down. Then gravity pulls it back the way it came. With one final, muscle-sapping effort, the 360-degree swing is completed — as satisfying as hitting a home run or throwing a touchdown pass.

From parochial beginnings, this addictive pastime has spread beyond the Baltic. Kiiking frames are increasingly springing up in the United States; a new summer sport is taking hold.

Back in northern Europe, everything is currently in the cold grip of winter. Frustrated sportspeople endure the long nights, dreaming of summer and the new ideas they will be able to try out. In some remote homestead in Scandinavia or the Baltic States, the next big sporting craze could be in someone’s head right now.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Feb 23, 2024

The Radical: A New Boutique Hotel, Opens in Asheville, North Carolina’s, River Arts District

Once an abandoned 1923 constructed warehouse in Asheville, North Carolina, it took a creative group of designers, artists, musicians, chefs and business folks to transform a neglected, 100-year-old structure into one of Asheville’s most interesting and daring hotel projects.

The Argosaronic Islands Are Calling

The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.

February 2024
Feb 23, 2024

Pickle Up: Get in on America’s Fastest Growing Sport

Early on, pickleball had something to do with pickles. Pickles the dog, that is. In one story, the game was named for a family dog that ran off with the ball between sets.

Daily
Feb 23, 2024

Hôtel Norman Opens Near the Top of Champs Elysées

Located a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe, Olivier Bertrand recently opened Hôtel Norman for those looking to explore the city.

Experience Luxury and Tranquility at Hamad International Airport’s Hotel

Known as one of the best airports in the world and voted Best Airport in the Middle East by Global Traveler readers, Hamad International Airport aims to set new standards for the airport industry that exceed the expectations of travelers through its facility.

Daily
Feb 23, 2024

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco Completes Renovations

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Polanco recently completed renovations of its entrances, lobby, culinary concepts and meeting space. This marks the final stage of the renovation, which began in 2021 with the revitalization of its 269 guestrooms and 45 suites.

Daily
Feb 21, 2024

Make Alberta, Canada, Your Next Wellness Getaway

Rich in mountains, prairies, forests and hot springs, Alberta, Canada, takes nature and wellness travel to a whole new level. Combine the beauty of this western Canadian province with relaxation and you’re in for a treat.

Why Buy Trip Cancellation Insurance?

Don’t risk losing all the money you’ve spent if you must cancel your trip at the last minute. Allianz Travel Insurance can give you:

eFlyer Reviews
Feb 21, 2024

Amantaka Review

You know what you’re going to get at an Aman hotel, and also you don’t. Expect peerless service, obsessive attention to detail, architectural elegance worthy of a fashion magazine, a holistic approach to wellness and astounding levels of comfort. But each property is also intimately connected to its setting, and that’s where the surprises lie. For instance, finding yourself on your knees on a sidewalk in Luang Prabang handing out sticky rice to Buddhist monks at 5:30 a.m. isn’t something we expected.