. Hubby toted me around the living room and aside from the head rush, it was a comfortable ride lol. Saw this on CNN and had to share
Estonians Lift Wife-Carrying To A Whole New Level
By ROGER THUROW The Wall Street Journal
Published: Jul 3, 2003
VAIKE-MAARJA, Estonia - Take it from a world champion: The best way for a man to carry a woman is to dangle her upside down over his back, with her thighs squeezing his neck and her arms around his torso.
``That way, your arms are free to help with balance. It's more stable. There's less shifting of the weight,'' says Margo Uusorg. He has just carried Egle Soll, her pigtails flapping against his back, around a 278-yard oval track that includes a 3-foot-deep water trough and two hurdles of wooden logs. In slightly more than one minute, they won the Estonian championship here and qualified for this weekend's Wife Carrying World Championship in Sonkajarvi, Finland, where Uusorg is a heavy favorite to win his third world crown.
``When you carry this way,'' he says, ``it's much easier.''
Soll, upright again and flushed by the experience, if not the victory, says, ``It's not so bad. But you don't see much.''
Sport Turned Upside Down
Estonian men turned up in this little farming village lugging their women upside down five years ago, and the sport of wife carrying hasn't been the same since. Suddenly gone were the glory days of the piggyback carry, the fireman's carry, the wrap-around-the- shoulders carry. The ``Estonian carry,'' as it was dubbed, was in. And Estonians have won five straight wife-carrying world championships. Actually, ``wife carrying'' is a misnomer, for the rules in the freestyle competition allow the man to carry any woman older than 17, his wife or not.
The Estonian dominance doesn't sit well with the Finns, who have been wife-carrying since the late 1800s, when marauding gangs would make off with women from neighboring villages. According to legend, a notorious brigand of the time named Rosvo-Ronkainen recruited only men who proved their worth by carrying heavy weight on a challenging track.
Now it is the neighboring Estonians who are getting the spoils of victory.
``Every year,'' says Taisto Miettinen, ``the newspaper headlines say, `Once again, Finnish guy doesn't win.' '' That would be him. For the past two years, Miettinen has finished second at the world championships.
``The Finnish wife carriers are like the Boston Red Sox,'' says Michael Toohey, a Maine house painter who captured sixth place in last year's world competition after winning the North American Wife Carrying Championship in Sunday River, Maine. ``People root for them, but they sort of know they won't win.'' He figured his own chances were slim when he awoke the day of the race and saw one of his Estonian opponents warming up with an early morning workout. ``I saw that and I said, `Wow, they're serious.' ''
Communism Produced Contenders
The Finns, on the other hand, apparently just want to have fun. One of their world championship rules, in addition to the one imposing a 15-second penalty for dropping a wife, stipulates that ``all the participants must have fun.'' In past competitions, Finns have awarded winners the woman's weight in beer. The Estonians, at their national championships June 21, gave winners the woman's weight in mineral water.
``We take too many things seriously,'' concedes Indrek Keskyla, the mayor of Vaike- Maarja. He blames the communists who ran this Baltic nation. ``In the old Soviet Union days, we had to be serious gray people,'' he says. Under communist rule, the village pushed to be the best farm cooperative in Estonia. Now it produces the best wife carriers.
The mayor himself produced a lot of laughs when, leading off for the municipal team in the wife-carrying relay competition, he stumbled in the water hazard, drenching himself and his ``wife,'' a woman who works for the city. But next year, he knows, it might not be so funny. ``My wife wants to do it next year,'' he says. ``I said if we do it, we do it for fun. But she says, `No, we must be serious; we must train.' ''
There were some other laughs. A man dressed as Santa Claus carried Mrs. Claus. And the several hundred spectators gasped when a woman dressed in a nun's habit assumed the Estonian carry position over the shoulders of a man dressed as a monk.
Despite the rather intimate carrying style, there were no jealous wives or partners fuming at trackside. ``I'm happy that he won,'' says Kaia Laas, Uusorg's girlfriend. ``He was already carrying other women when I met him. So I can't complain.''
Besides, says Uusorg, ``she's too heavy. Wait, that sounds bad. She's not fat, she's just too heavy for the competition.'' His girlfriend is nearly 6 feet tall and weighs about 127 pounds. Soll, his carry partner, is barely 5 feet tall and weighs 101 pounds.
Which brings us to the touchiest wife-carrying subject of all: weight. As if the Estonian's new carrying method wasn't enough to upset the Finns, they then started showing up in Sonkajarvi with lighter and lighter women. Uusorg, a 23-year-old administrative officer at the Estonian embassy in Sweden, arrived in 2000 carrying Birgit Ulrich, a college student weighing about 80 pounds. They won in the record time of 55.5 seconds. Then they won again in 2001.
The Sonkajarvi organizers, seeking to slow the Estonians, in 2002 set a weight limit, but not arbitrarily. Forty-nine kilograms, or 108 pounds, is the least a woman can weigh, ``the weight of Armi Kuusela more than 50 years ago when she was crowned Miss Universe.''