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
Jun 14, 2024

Former 1940s-Era Italian Bank Transformed Into Rome EDITION Hotel

It is hard to resist the pleasures of Rome, a city filled with world-renowned paintings; sculptures; thousands of colorful cafés; and hundreds of ancient buildings still standing and often used as offices, homes and museums. Certainly, Rome is the cradle from which all that is best about Italy emerged. It is difficult to open a new hotel in Rome without connecting it to the city’s history, art and culinary tradition. When Rome EDITION opened last year, it was the perfect fit for a city that lives and breathes all things extraordinary.

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:

June 2024
Jun 14, 2024

Loyalty Programs Revamp to Meet Changing Customer Preferences

Airlines and hotels consistently tweak loyalty programs to draw brand engagement based on shifting consumer habits, and the demands of younger generations make an impact. According to Chris Galloway, executive vice president, Strategy & Design, for brand loyalty experts Brandmovers, millennials are more active and engaged in loyalty programs than any other generation to date, and as Gen Z gains in buying/spending power, they also accelerate in their desire for loyalty and rewards programs.

Daily
Jun 14, 2024

Luxury Italian Farmhouse Launches 3 Seasonal, Hands-On Culinary Experiences

This summer, guests staying at Casetta Firenze, a luxury farmhouse in the Chianti region of Tuscany, can book three culinary workshops led by experts in the art of pasta making, traditional Tuscan dishes and vegetarian cuisine. Each workshop offers a multicourse meal, local produce and complementary wine.

Sail to the Tropical Splendors of Tahiti and The Tuamotu Islands with Windstar Cruises

This November, Windstar Cruises celebrates more than 36 years in Tahiti with an itinerary taking guests to the clear waters of Tahiti and The Tuamotu Islands on a journey exploring Tahitian culture, the ecosystems of Fakarava, and the sunsets of Raiatea and Bora Bora. The 10-day sailing aboard Star Breeze, Nov. 18–28, departs from Papeete and ends in Papeete.

Daily
Jun 14, 2024

Top U.S. States for Golfers

Relocation experts at My Baggage recently conducted a study to determine the top U.S. states for golfers by analyzing the distribution of golf courses, driving ranges, tournaments and golf coaches per 100,000 residents in every state, along with the number of platinum clubs. From there, each location was assigned a score and ranked accordingly.

Daily
Jun 12, 2024

Langham Hospitality Group Opens Cordis-Branded Hotel in Foshan, China

Langham Hospitality Group opened a new hotel under its upscale Cordis Hotels & Resorts brand, situated in the southern Chinese city of Foshan, a key urban center in the country’s Greater Bay Area. The Cordis, Foshan and Lingnan Tiandi Hotel is becoming a promising destination for both tourists and business travelers thanks to its planned upgrades and prime location in Lingnan Tiandi.

Share Your Travel Preferences with Global Traveler in a Short Survey & Win

Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!

eFlyer Reviews
Jun 12, 2024

Hôtel des Grands Voyageurs Review

It’s often declared Paris’ Left Bank, or La Rive Gauche, the local side of the Seine —  where bohemian and chic are used superfluously, albeit with some veracity. It only makes sense that travelers looking to stay on the Left Bank would seek as local an accommodation as possible — Hôtel des Grands Voyageurs is the new kid on the block and certainly delivers this with its design following the likes of a Parisian art collectors’ residence.