03 January 2010

One-Wheeled Medals

The 15th World Unicycle Championships are taking place in Wellington, New Zealand at the moment. It's not everyday unicycle races feature on the main news websites here in Denmark, but Danes have harvested medals, so it featured. It's a slow sports news period here around christmas and new years, too, but hey.

Personally, my relationship to unicycles is the same as to... say... recumbents. I know people do it and enjoy doing it, but I don't get it. I put it into my "variety is the spice of bicycle culture" box and leave it at that.

I know little of unicyle events. Apparently they compete in a wild mix of events and disciplines. Artistic Freestyle, MUni (mountain-unicycling), Street, Track and Field, Unicycle Hockey and Basketball, Road Racing, Slow Riding, Downhill Gliding, etc.

In Wellington there was Danish gold in men's downhill gliding [fastest one down a hill with no feet on the pedals] and bronze in the women's race.

The event that appeals the most - as the founder of The Slow Bicycle Movement - is the slow unicycle race - backwards and forwards. In Wellington, the Danish ladies dominated this event. Five of the first six places were Danes.

In the 10 m. slow unicycle race [forwards] Germany took gold and Denmark took silver and bronze.

In the 10 m. backwards race Denmark took gold and bronze. Signe Jensen, who won the silver and gold respectively set new national records in both disciplines. 10 m. forwards was unicycled in 55.69 sec. while backwards 10 m. was a bit quicker at 41.47 sec.

There were other Danish medals won, too. Apparently. Which is nice. I just think it's wild to discover that A. There is a world championship for unicycling and B. There are so many different events.

I have several thousand photos of all aspects of bicycle culture but a quick search for 'unicycle' came up with only one photo. Come to think of it there's one kid in our neighbourhood whom rides around on a unicycle but it's rare that I see any. Kind of like recumbents. They've never hit it off in Denmark either. Although I'm sure they have races somewhere, too.

Here's the link to the World Championship website.

Hmm. Just wondered how many other sports events there are out there that I've never heard of or rarely hear of. Danish ice sailers are out in force now that the temperatures are below freezing every day and the lakes of the nation are frozen. It's been a few years since we've seen them, what with our global warming winters of late.

How many of our American readers have seen their national cricket team play? Or that they call their leader a 'president' because John Adams said in Congress that if leaders of cricket clubs could be called "presidents", there was no reason why the leader of the new nation could not be called the same? Stump your English chums by asking who played the first International Test Match in cricket history. Answer. That one has won me many a pint. Use it freely and wisely.

Five-pin bowling? Been around since 1909 but Canada is the only country where it's still played. [Makes it tricky to have a World Championship].

And what of Kabaddi, popular in India? Cool sport in need of global exposure. And let's not forget the traditional Inuit events which feature in the Arctic Winter Games.

Hmm. I'm rambling. I am sooo not ready to get back to work tomorrow.


Green Idea Factory said...

Hmm, I interpret the unicycling success as resulting of early-developed balancing skills amongst all y'all.

Unity Finesmith said...

It's very interesting that it is featured in the news in Denmark because, here in NZ where the championships are actually taking place, it is a very well kept secret! Not a single mention of it in our national newspaper - we have the usual: number of deaths in road accidents, discussion of how to reduce afore mentioned deaths - results of a survey say 80% of people want the legal driving age raised from 15yrs. There's also usually some stuff on drunk driving, and the progress (or lack of it) and budget blow out on the latest road building project!

Matt said...

There's a national newspaper here in New Zealand?

Wellington's Dominion Post has had at least one story about it:

But I'm pretty certain in the Dom Post office they're down to a staff of 1 at this time of year. The rest of the year she's probably the cleaner.

David Hembrow said...

You know what ? Variety really is the spice of life. Try a recumbent, try a unicycle. It's just about having fun.

As for unicycles themselves, we have kids riding to school on them here.

Downhill without feet on the pedals sounds a little different, though...

Mikael said...

i'll try anything once. Unicycles were fun for an afternoon.
On my To Do list there are many things i'll be trying to have fun. recumbents are probably on the list, but quite far down in the quirky category.

Su Yin said...

I was in the thick of it and it was great seeing them everywhere in an otherwise deserted CBD. Some even cycled as far away as 15km from the city center.

In other NZ cycling-related news, solar-powered double recumbent summer bike touring with a seeing-eye dog. :)

Cargo Cult said...

Unicycles scare the bejesus out of me. There's a guy in my area who regularly rides along busy streets atop what looks like a 29 inch wheel with fat tyres. I pulled up alongside him at the lights once and marvelled at his skills at keeping balance with such a high centre of gravity.

Loved that story about the double-recumbent bike, Su Yin. Thanks for the link.

craig said...

are you sure the distances 10 m are not supposed to be 100m? 45 seconds for 10 m is pain fully slow.

kevin said...

"Some even cycled as far away as 15km from the city center."

15km isn't that long. There was an 800 km 5-day stage race a year and a half ago called Ride the Lobster.

Anonymous said...

As a surfer I would put these in the same basket as knee boarders, goat boats and esky lids. I see them in the water but don't really think about them too much unless they get in the way~ian (ozz)

Su Yin said...

Kevin: It sort of is when facing Wellingtonian headwinds :) The Lobster looks brutal

Cargo Cult: Here's the news clip, although I'm not sure if it works outside of New Zealand.

Kevin Love said...

With a few exceptions, five pin is the only type of bowling around here.

I was quite old (mid-twenties) before I saw any other type of bowling.

Beck said...

I think these guys must have all gone on to Sydney from Wellington. This morning the place where usually there's fixie polo going on was taken up by unicycle hockey. I didn't know there were so many people who could ride a unicycle in my town.