Archive for the ‘New Sports’ Category

Bin Bag Game on Mt Everest

mt-everest-bin-bag

There’s a new sport in town – well, sort of. It’s kind of like when your mum tells you of this “fun new game” where whoever can fold the most socks is the winner!

Except instead of the living room floor, you’re climbing Mount Everest and instead of folding socks, you’re collecting rubbish. Also, if you fail the game and collect less than eight kilograms of rubbish per person, you lose your $4000 deposit.

Picture this: Snow and wind swirl in the air as you trudge through the snow, each step harder than the last. The air is thin. You’ve got a picture of your hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, in your pocket. You can’t see the top of the world’s tallest mountain but you know it’s there and you promise yourself you’re going to make it even if you have to crawl there. The path ahead lies agony, glory and… is that a Be Natural muesli bar? Damn, it’s empty. Better add that to my rubbish bag.

From coffee makers, oxygen tanks, broken tent bits and frozen human corpses, official estimates indicate there are hundreds of tons of rubbish scattered across the glorious Mount Everest and the Nepalese government has decided to take action.

“From now on, a climber is required to bring down eight kilograms of waste, and that excludes their own empty oxygen bottles and human dung,” Madhusudhan Burlakoti, joint secretary of Nepal’s tourism ministry, told the New York Times.

It’s tough love for all those extreme climbers out there but it’s all for the sake of the world’s most extraordinary mountain.

Who’s the Fitness Angel?

balmoral-kayaking

There’s a girl in my office, I’ll call her H. I like her. She’s fair and blonde, with a pretty smile. I’ve tried to engage her in conversation; but this is a small business and there’s really no way talk socially without being overheard.

We do talk – but it’s always about work. When it comes time to go home everyone melts into the Sydney evening; each in their own direction.

But one day the boss decided to invest in some corporate lunchtime kayak sessions with Fitness Angels. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘could be my opportunity.’

Initially H was reluctant to go – ‘too much work’, ‘not really into kayaking’, ‘belong to akayaking-classes gym already’. But we nagged and convinced her – lunchtime kayaking is as much about having fun as exercising.

We all assembled down at the Sydney Harbor water’s edge, in the shade of million dollar waterfront properties. Standing on the shoreline I could clearly see the imposing structure of Harbor Bridge, the jaded Luna Park, and tucked just out of sight the somewhat dramatic Opera House.

It was peaceful listening to the water lap at the sand and feeling the sunshine on my face. The stress of our claustrophobic office seemed another world away.

We donned life jackets while Laura, our instructor, went through the basics of paddling. I moved closer to H and tried to catch her eye.

But she was watching Laura with that enigmatic smile.

“I want you to pair up,” Laura said (helpfully). “We’re going to have a kayak teams race. So I want boy – girl teams.” I looked at H, she smiled.

Laura continued, “You’ll be paddling together, so help each other out.” She gave two of the guys a measured look, eyes narrowing, “And I don’t want any kayaks being overturned.”

H and I dragged our kayaks to the waterline and waited for the starting signal. I turned to her and said, “Perhaps we might stand a better chance if we slip stream each other?”

H just smiled and said nothing.

“Go!” Laura shouted.

The three teams of two charged into the water like we were competing for the Olympic medals. I vaulted into my kayak and started pin-wheeling my paddles, expecting H to slip into my wake for the first leg of the journey.

But she passed me like I was at anchor! Her paddles flashing through the air like a fan!

I redoubled my efforts and leaned into each stroke.

Her kayak effortlessly glided ahead of mine.

I slipped into her wake.

Within a few strokes we were clear of the others.

Within a dozen I was puffing.

As we rounded he first buoy she was slowing to let me catch up.

H and I easily won the Fitness Angels kayak relay. H dragged me around the course like I was an anchor, but she didn’t seem to mind.

lunch-time-kayakingLaura had erected a Fitness Angels banner to signify the finish line. H and I were the first team across. I tried to say something, but all I could do was puff and slump forward in my kayak; sweat streaming from my brow.

H was already ashore, talking to Laura. I later discovered they’d been teammates in a kayak development squad at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Prolongoing Sydney’s Summer of Sports

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So far, the 2013/2014 Australian summer has been one of high drama and high stakes. From Australia’s incredible cricket victories, to tough conditions in the Sydney To Hobart, to a number of early high-profile knockouts in the Australian Open, it’s been consistently surprising and engaging. It’s not over yet, though.

It’s true that a lot of international sportspeople will be heading for the Departures terminal in the next week or so, as big events wind up. What we’re left with, though, is a range of events that cater to tastes that are diverse and slightly left-of-field. Those hoping to assert their status as a well-rounded sports fan will do well to stick around in Sydney, situating themselves in a North Sydney hotel so they have close access to all corners of the city, which will play host to a variety of different sports in the coming weeks and months.

summer-surfingAustralian Open of Surfing

Surfing and youth culture have always gone hand in hand. It makes perfect sense, then, that the Open of Surfing doesn’t restrict itself to sport. Music, art, and fashion will also be on display during the nine-day event, which is free and is expected to attract about 125,000 spectators to Manly during February. There’s also a skateboarding element, ensuring that the tastes of teenagers the country over will be catered to. It’s pretty rare for an event to combine so many elements of youth culture, so don’t be surprised if your uppity teenager is asking to be booked into a nearby hotelurban.com.au/sydney in the near future.

Dragon Boat racing

Now a cornerstone of Sydney’s annual Chinese New Year Festival, dragon boat racing attracts spectators for a number of reason. The physical prowess of participating paddlers is not to be scoffed at, for one thing. Dragon boat racing is also of great significance in Chinese culture, and both reflects and perpetuates national pride and collectivity. Equally important is the visual spectacle aspect that the races bring to Cockle Bay, as an armada of delicately crafted, exquisitely decorated boats – each twelve metres long and housing twenty paddlers – descend for a weekend.

Waratahs vs Blues

A February 7 preview match, to be held at Allianz Stadium, will serve as an interesting preview of what’s to come in 2014 for Super Rugby.

Readers unfamiliar with the curious love/hate relationships between Australians and New Zealanders may well find the stoush enlightening. Interactions between the two nations are like a more jovial, good-natured version of the French and English rapprochement, in sentiment if not in practicality. With the two sides last year occupying neighbouring slots towards the bottom of the Super Rugby ladder, fans will be waiting with baited breath to see who can gain the upper hand in 2014.

Observers from overseas are like to find that situating themselves in the heart of Waratahs territory will make the lead-up and come-down from the match even more exciting. So book yourself into the Chatswood Shopping Center hotel to truly  get a true indication of just how passionate New South Welshman are about their sport. Go ‘Tahs!

The Enigma Charters Shoot-Out

Brian and I work for a large entertainment business. We’re mid-level managers; more dogs-bodies than high-fliers. Last week we were given our first corporate hosting gig. A big client was flying in for a meeting with our Betters.  For good or ill we were tasked with keeping him entertained for one afternoon. All we knew about the guy was that he liked to shoot.

I’ll give credit where it’s due. It was Brian who discovered the Laser Clay Pigeon shooting on Sydney Harbour. Corporate & Executive Yacht Hire in Sydney, Australia – what could be better? We get to show off the wonders of Sydney while also engaging him in his favourite pastime. Unfortunately, it was to be Brian’s last good idea.20091207-20091207-DSC_0957-848x250

For anyone interested, the Laser Clay Pigeon shooting is offered through Enigma Charters. You and your guests climb aboard a luxury yacht, with everything provided. The Captain and crew do it all and really go out of their way to make the trip pleasant. For special occasions like corporate events, weddings and parties I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Our departure was held up because Brian was late. Not a good start. The client was unimpressed.

When Brian did finally show, he was dressed like a traditional English sporting shooter: Deerstalker cap, tweed jacket, and one of those stupid capes that only come down to your shoulder blades – like the one Sherlock Holmes is always depicted wearing as he hunches over his magnifying glass.

The client looked like he’d just been given second place in a lemon eating competition.

‘Ahoy!’ Brian greeted us both.

I cringed.

It was a glorious, warm October morning: Perfect boating weather with blue skies and light winds. The Captain introduced himself and the crew. “Welcome to Enigma Charters, Sydney Harbour Wedding Cruise & Boat Charter. Today we are going …” We were given the safety talk and an outline of the events of the day. The client sat as far away from Brian as he could

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to throw Brian overboard. I think it would have been in everybody’s interests had I done so; even Brian’s.

By the time the laser clay pigeon shooting was ready to begin I had the suspicion Brian had made a bet with the client.

I pulled him aside, “Have you made a bet on this clay pigeon shooting?” I whispered heatedly.

“Nooooooo,” said Brian, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, noooOOOooo!”

He thought a moment. “Well … yes.”

Brian had never fired a gun in his life. Let alone a laser rifle on the rolling deck of a luxury yacht.

“You idiot!” I was shaking with rage, “We could lose our jobs for this. What’s the bet for?”

“A case of Grange Hermitage.”

That’s six hundred dollars a bottle. “Well don’t expect me to pay for it,” I hissed. “I want no part of this.”

The competition went as expected. Brian, still in his tweeds and deerstalker despite the 30 degree heat, allowed the client to shoot first. He scored 100% – five pigeons from five shots.

Brian stepped up for his turn. “Pull!” he commanded, quite unnecessarily. And the clay pigeon sailed off unharmed towards the Headlands.

“Pull!” Brian went on quite unperturbed.

I couldn’t watch. I left them to it, preferring instead to work on the resume I’d be needing when the boss fired us.

When next I saw them, the client had his arm on Brian’s shoulder teaching him how to hold the gun properly. I’m not sure if the client looked sympathetic or bemused, but he was clearly enjoying himself.

enigmaThe day passed pleasantly enough. The Sydney Harbor boat cruise was beautiful, the food magnificent, the Captain and staff were very friendly and unobtrusive. When at the end of the day we disembarked the client shook both our hands and gave Brian a queer look.

“I’ll have the Grange sent to your rooms tomorrow,” Brian said.

When we got in the car I begged Brian to tell me he didn’t bet any more than one case of Grange.

“We doubled up,” he said.

I put my head in my hands and moaned.

“Twice.”

“Leave Sydney,” was my advice. “You owe him almost twenty thousand dollars! I’m taking you home. Pack your stuff, grab the wife, and go.”

But when we got to Brian’s place there was a surprise waiting for us: Brian’s wife rushed out to the car, all smiles and bubbling with excitement. “Brian!” the news was bursting out of her. “Your boss rang to say the client just has accepted the deal! You’re both getting a ten thousand dollar bonus!”

Brian looked at me hopefully.

Ballet – Almost An Outrageous Sport

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Yes, I know this is outrageous sports, and that ballet, or dancing for that matter, isn’t considered a sport, but there are a lot of signs that point to this particular discipline being one of the hardest talents to master. Being good at ballet is something that takes years of practice and self control, and only the best make it in the big leagues. Dancers need to be strong, fit, and have the body aesthetics to suit the job. Unfortunately, it is such a competitive industry that in order to achieve your goals of being a professional ballerina, your entire focus needs to be ballet. But if you can master that, your dreams could be closer than you think. As a ballerina, you use every aspect of your body to stay lean and fit. Your legs are long and slender, as are your arms, with a killer core for strength and balance. Being a ballerina is a seriously tough gig too. You’re worked to the point of exhaustion and get tossed around a stage by other ballerinas, and that’s in the off-season of performances! Whether it’s considered a sport or not is irrelevant, what makes a difference is how hard you work to achieve certain physical goals. In a lot of opinions, ballet is pretty darn outrageous, and pretty much a sport…

The Big Ballet Workout

Think back to Black Swan, and that svelte body that Natalie Portman rocked. If you’re dying to know the training program she followed in the year before filming, well, let’s just say it wasn’t easy. Her trainer Mary Helen Bowers had her working 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, combining mat work, cardio, and ballet in order to tone and lengthen her limbs. You need every exercise to serve a dual purpose. Looking like a professional ballet dancer is one thing, but moving and dancing like one is a different story. For that reasons, Natalie Portman did training exercises such as working on her inner thighs to change how her leg was shaped but also to get a tighter fifth position. Other exercises targeted her abs to give her greater definition, but also build her centre of balance.

Cross-training exercises are a major part of training to be a ballet dancer, as it complements the other training as well as preventing injuries common in ballet. Ballet can be hard on your joints, so to break it up a bit, try swimming around 1km each day to work on endurance and elongating the muscles with zero impact.

Cosmo Magazine has some top tips for basic ballet exercises to start getting your body in shape. They work everything from your hips and butt to thighs and core.

ballet

How To Be A Ballerina

Along with physical strength and endurance, comes a particular look that ballet dancers are known for. The long, lean muscles, slender figures and fluid movements all contribute to what a dancer will appear and act like. Often, ballet dancers are forced to alter their bodies in order to fit the mould of a particular body shape. This is primarily done with hard work and training, however some facets of the body can’t be changed naturally. One of the biggest concerns for ballet dancers is large ears, that extend quite far out from the face. When dancing as a professional ballerina, hair is always pulled back into a tight bun, and if you have big ears, this becomes all the more noticeable. As a completely valid area of self-consciousness, it isn’t uncommon for dancers to fix this problem through a cosmetic surgery procedure such as cosmetic ear surgery to pin back protruding ears. That’s where the Me Clinic comes in. They offer a wide range of cosmetic procedures, everything from liposuction in Australia, to body hair removal and breast surgery. With this simple procedure, a ballet dancer can resolve the problem of protruding ears, and feel comfortable reaching for their goals as a professional ballet dancer.

Being a ballerina is a difficult, intense and rewarding ‘sport’. The discipline required to achieve goals of professional ballet are both impressive and hard to achieve, however just like every other sport, if you love it, you’ll work hard to get there. Ballet is a technical, beautiful form of art, and with all the passion and dedication that accompanies the sport, it’s hard not to find it inspiring.

Circus Arts in Australia

la soiree

One of the most outrageous sports that has been dramatically increasing in popularity over the last few years, and which is more based on performing than competing, is circus arts. Although the foothold of the circus industry is maintained quite heavily by the internationally renowned production company, Cirque Du Soleil, there are an ever increasing amount of productions giving cirque a run for its money. There are an infinite number of performances and acts available for your entertainment and circus artists are constantly thinking up new and innovative ways to impress and show off their incredible skill.

Circus Productions Currently Touring Australia

There are often a variety of circus shows touring or featuring in Australia at any one time, and right now is no exception. Some of the most renowned companies are congregating in Brisbane this month as part of the very cultural and theatrical Brisbane Festival.

Opus is easily one of the most highly anticipated circus shows of the season. The physically daring, Brisbane-based company, Circa has collaborated with the majestic tunes of France’s renowned Debussy Quartet to create an enthralling display of beauty, grace and physicality that director Yaron Lifschitz believes will make you feel “an emotion that you hopefully didn’t even know you could feel until you saw that work”. Circa has been delighting sold out audiences in over 24 countries, only now just heading home after performing in Berlin and at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The 14 acrobats are thrilled to be returning home for the Australian premiere of Opus, and with one of the largest casts in Circa history this show will prove to be one of the boldest and most ambitious works yet.

La Soiree is another captivating circus performance featuring at the Brisbane Festival. La Soiree is a rather raunchy love-child of daring circus tricks and decadent cabaret that was conceived on a bed of comedy and delivered in the opulent interior of the Spiegeltent. Another must-see circus performances at the Brisbane festival is Urban, the upbeat narrative of the street told by hip-opera circus artists from Colombia and the UK. For an action-packed family favourite featuring the spectacular circus tricks we know and love, Topsy Turvy shouldn’t be missed. Featuring all your favourite acrobatics, aerials, handbalancing, tightwire, hula hoops, magic tricks and big top mischief, this show couldn’t be a disappointment even if it tried.

Solo Circus Artists

As well as the major shows touring the countries, there are also a whole suite of circus performers across Australia that make a living through showing off their incredible agility, strength, flexibility, humour and enchanting on-stage presence.

If you’re a circus or acrobatics performer trying to get gigs in your city, you need to ensure that you find yourself an agent who can find and recommend you for performances and you also need to ensure that you have high-quality video footage that shows off your performance skills. It is a great idea to utilise a professional video productions and video editing company to ensure you have the optimum footage that does your act the most justice in allowing potential clients to get a true sense of your abilities.

Alternatively, if you’re organising an event, you should consider looking for a circus performer to add a bit of extra spice and pizzazz to your function. There are also a range of corporate events management services in Sydney that can help you out with the organisational logistics. Scope Productions is an esteemed video production and event management company that can take all the stress away from you regardless of whether you’re a performer or an events organiser.

Wife Carrying

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Yes, you heard correctly – Wife Carrying is a sport. It is a race where a man carries his wife along an obstacle course, where the fastest couple is deemed the winner. Whilst this may initially sound incredibly sexist, impractical and in some cases downright inappropriate, you have come to the understanding that yes, it is all of those things. Despite the fact that this sport is taken in a very lighthearted manner, major competitors of the sport take Wife Carrying very seriously.

The Origins of Wife Carrying

There are a number of theories as to how this sport came about. Originating in Finland under its traditional name of ‘Eukonkanto’, the sport seems to have its origins in a man named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen. He was a thief and pillager in the late 19th century, flooding chaos in towns and villages. The stories say that he and his gang used to steal food, goods and even women, carrying them on their backs. Another story, which is far less worrying, is the idea that Rosvo-Ronkainen used to train his men by getting them to carry large, heavy sacks on their backs which eventually evolved into a sport testing muscle endurance and strength. Though the question must be asked – when did women replace these sacks?

The Rules

There are a number of rules in the Sport of Wife Carrying. The track on which the race is undertaken usually involves some rocky terrain, fences to leap over and a water based section. Here are a few of the rules that have been set by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee.

  • The Track is 253.5 meters in length.
  • The wife must be your own, the neighbors, or one you found further afield.
  • She must be at least seventeen years of age.
  • Contestants run two at a time.
  • The fastest couple is named the winner.
  • The most entertaining, the best costume and strongest carrier also win prizes.

It’s an interesting sport that has crosses many a field, with the sport now practiced in the USA, Hong Kong, Estonia and right here in Australia. The World Championships are held every year.

 

Scissors – Paper – Rock

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Usually, when we think of the game of Scissors – Paper – Rock, we think of it as a tie-breaking game played by children in the playground. There are a few variations of the name, depending on where you grew up (The game being known as ‘Rock – Paper – Scissors’ in the US), but the essential concept remains the same.  We would be surprised to hear that this childhood past time is actually considered a professional sport in parts of the world.

The Rules

The rules of Scissors – Paper – Rock remain the same throughout the world. The two competitors (sometimes more) generally gesture their hands in a fist for three counts, kept in time through a chant of “Scissors Paper Rock!” On the fourth count, the competitors configure their hands into one of three gestures, each representing rock, paper or scissors.

The rules of how the winner is decided are as follows:

Rock defeats scissors

Scissors defeats Paper

Paper defeats rock

Whilst these rules may not make perfect sense, they are final. How rock manages to be defeated by paper is a bit complex. The idea is that paper can cover rock – though why paper cannot cover scissors also is a mystery.

On the occasion that two competitors choose the same gesture, the game is tied and they play again. The game is often played as a best of three.

Competitions of Scissors – Paper – Rock

It’s surprising, if not ridiculous, to hear that there are competitions for Scissors – Paper – Rock. The World Rock Paper Scissors Society was founded in 2002 and has a standardised set of rules for play. It oversees the annual International World Championships. These competitions receive very wide media attention from all parts of the world, with a vast range of nationalities competing for the crown. These competitions have been known for their large cash prizes, decorative arenas and memorable contestants. In 2004 the championships were broadcast on US sports TV giant Fox Sports.

The international competition is not the only tournament in the world – with competitions held in the UK and smaller tournaments in the US.

Humans Vs Zombies

humans vs zombies

Humans vs Zombies at USYD in 2012 for its annual Verge Festival

Forget the keg and a beer pong, university students are putting down the big red cup and training for the imminent zombie apocalypse. What? No seriously, this is a thing. In universities all around the world, students are playing what’s effectively a giant game of tag but with nerf guns and zombies. This is Humans vs Zombies.

Origins

Humans vs Zombies was invented in 2005 by US college students Chris Weed and Brad Sappington. Since then the craze has caught on like an epidemic. As of 2012,  over 300 universities have taken part in a Humans vs Zombies game.

Rules

Humans vs Zombies is a live-action game with two teams: the humans and the zombies. When the game starts, everyone is human except for one or two people who are the starting zombies. These zombies aim to tag/infect all the humans, who then also become zombies. Humans are armed with nerf guns and aim to survive as long as possible before becoming infected. If a zombie is hit by a nerf, they’re stunned for 15 minutes before they’re able to resume gameplay.

The game only ends when all humans have been infected. The time it takes, therefore, depends on the size of the field. Most of the time, Humans vs Zombies is played on the entire university grounds, which can span many kilometres square. Some games have been known to last not only hours but whole days.

Humans vs Zombies In Australia

The contagion has spread down under and the only way to get rid of it is to arm yourself with a nerf and join the good fight. Games have been played in Melbourne Uni, ANU and USYD. For more information and for details on upcoming games, check out the Australian HVZ website. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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Founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Hélio Gracie, aged 95, submitting a much younger opponent

First founded in 1914, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is not exactly a new sport but has only really come into its own in the past two decades. An offshoot of judo, BJJ focuses on groundwork and grappling as opposed to strike-based attacks. This way, supposedly, a person can overwhelm a far stronger opponent using joint-locks and chokeholds.

Origins

The grandmaster of BJJ, Mitsuyo Maeda, has been commonly credited to bringing judo from Japan to Brazil. In 1917, he was introduced to youngster Carlos Gracie, the son of a local businessman. Maeda taught Carlos his techniques and Carlos taught his brothers. The youngest of his brothers, Hélio, had a medical condition that made his body frail but he was determined to fight like his other brothers. Over the course of months, Hélio developed a new form of Jiu-Jistu that works at exploiting natural vulnerabilities in the opponent’s body instead of using direct force. When he tested this technique by sparring with his brothers, it turned out that this softer martial art was superior to Maeda’s and the other brothers started developing techniques of their own based on Hélio’s principles; this was the start of Gracie BJJ.

Competitions

BJJ comes into its own when in competition. When the Gracie family broke into the competitive martial arts scene, everything changed. Previous to Royce Gracie winning the UFC in 1993, the best fighters in the world were considered to be boxers or karate practitioners. He then went on to win the UFC for the next four years. He made the martial arts community respect BJJ and from then on, any mixed martial artist worth their weight, have to learn BJJ.