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.
Though air travel slowed as airports temporarily closed and borders shuttered to stifle the spread of coronavirus, the airline industry — led by oneworld alliance member airlines — enacted enhanced protective measures to reduce risk and protect passengers.
I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
San Antonio celebrated 300 years of progress in May 2018. With a clear vision following that anniversary year, the Texan city set its sights firmly on 300 more. While commemorating this milestone, the city underwent a major overhaul to prepare for the next phase in its history.
Step right up to the greatest show on Earth as FXExpress Publications, Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com celebrate their 2020 award winners! Join the big top on Dec. 14 as we virtually award the winners of the 17th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, including the Airline and Hotel of the Year; the 17th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Survey; the eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards; the sixth annual The Trazees; and the third annual Wherever Awards.
When you think of a relaxing spa day, mountains, rivers and view of gorgeous landscapes pop in your head; a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of any city’s booming music and honking taxis. SoJo Spa Club and Hotel gives you the relaxing feeling of being away while still staying close to the busy center of Manhattan.
Dance the night away with Grand Hotel’s Ballroom Dance offer, available May 16–18. Dancers of all skill levels will experience a diverse range of ballroom dance styles, alongside daily breakfast and dinner, a welcome reception and complimentary golf green fees.
Are you looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own refined adventure of a lifetime. You can custom order your new Volvo, tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.