Jewish World Review March 3, 2003 / 29 Adar I, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

The ultimate clean and constructive sport | Looking for a new danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt?

Well, neither am I, particularly, but I still like the idea of Extreme Ironing.

Dreamed up in England in 1997 (do we really want to go to war with these people?), Extreme Ironing is for people who like things like rock climbing, skydiving and white-water kayaking but hate to leave their domestic chores behind.

(I'm guessing that the thrill of jumping out of an airplane is magnified by running a hot steam iron over your thumb or perhaps having your fresh-pressed shirt get tangled in your parachute. Otherwise why do it?)

Naturally, it was just a matter of time before Extreme Ironing evolved (devolved?) into a competition. The Extreme Ironing World Championships were held last year in Munich and drew 80 competitors. The individual event was won by a German "ironist" named, appropriately enough, Hot Pants.

(The press release did not say where Hot Pants was when she was doing her ironing, but I think it's safe to say she was not in her living room, watching TV with a cigarette dangling from her lips.)

This year the Extreme Ironing Bureau (I personally think the organization should change its name to the Extreme Ironing Board) is holding a worldwide competition to find out who can iron in the most bizarre, funny, unusual or extreme place. If you are interested, you have until April 30 to submit a picture or pictures that shows you ironing under extreme conditions. (Ironing while watching daytime television might be a form of torture, but it's not the kind of Extreme Ironing the judges are looking for.) The competition is free to enter and the top three pictures will be published in a book about Extreme Ironing coming out in October. (For more information on the competition, go to

There are some challenges to Extreme Ironing, as you might imagine. For one thing, if you choose to do your Extreme Ironing at the top of a mountain, you will need an extremely long extension cord. (Clearly, there is an emerging market out there for a battery-operated iron. Also a waterproof iron for those who prefer to do their Extreme Ironing while swimming with the fishes.)

Also, people who combine cliff-diving or bungee jumping with Extreme Ironing seldom have time to put a nice, sharp point on a shirt collar.

As Extreme Ironing takes off, it may open the door for other sports that combine the thrill of an outdoor activity with a mundane household chore. I'm thinking along the lines of Extreme Coupon-Clipping or, perhaps, Extreme Defrosting. Mountain climbing can get rather monotonous at times, so what better way to fight off the boredom of scaling the north face of K2 than to clip some coupons giving you 15 cents off on your next jar of peanut butter?

I happen to be writing this column while simultaneously defrosting a pound of hamburger in the sink. It's a daring thing to be doing, sure, what with the chance of E. coli contamination, not to mention the very real possibility that I will lose my focus and misplace an apostrophe.

But if I were an even more Extreme kind of guy, I might type a column, defrost a pound of ground chuck AND hook up my pug dogs to a sled and compete in the Iditarod.

I'd buy a book that had a picture of someone doing that.

I really would.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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