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15 Sep 2021

Hamlet, Robin Hood and Marie Curie inspire sauna masters at Aufguss World Championships 2021
BY Megan Whitby

Aufguss is an entertaining, communal sauna ritual that – at its simplest – involves an aufguss master waving a towel to distribute the sauna’s heat, usually set to music

Aufguss is an entertaining, communal sauna ritual that – at its simplest – involves an aufguss master waving a towel to distribute the sauna’s heat, usually set to music
photo: Ryszard Rak

Last week marked the eighth annual Aufguss World Championships, hosted in one of the world’s biggest saunas in Katowice, southern Poland.

Aufguss is an entertaining, communal sauna ritual that – at its simplest – involves an aufguss master waving a towel to distribute the sauna’s heat, usually set to music and with essential oil fragrances adding to the experience. But the top sauna masters can get very creative, weaving in storylines, costumes, and complex movements to enhance the experience.

The event was hosted at Palac Saturna’s Colosseum Sauna Arena – capable of holding 300 people – where crowds gathered both inside and outside the facility to watch 28 of the world’s finest aufguss sauna masters from 11 different nations battle for the world titles.

The seven-day competition gathered sweat enthusiasts from around the world, including representatives from the Japanese Sauna Association.

Slovakian sauna master Robert Zidek scooped the Aufguss World Champion Single Team title with his interpretation of an ageing actor desperately trying to play the role of Hamlet, while battling his inner demons.

Zidek drew the crowd in with his vivid storytelling and was praised by judges for the variety of unique and challenging towel techniques used during his performance.

In the doubles division, The Netherlands’ Sigrid van Rijswijk & Rianne van Mierden took home the world title after their synchronised performance.

Other stories told through the championships included interpretations of Robin Hood, the biography of Nobel Prize-winner Marie Curie and a performance exploring depression.

The 2021 judging panel evaluated performances based on professionalism, increase and distribution of steam/heat, waving techniques, fragrances, theme and implementation, atmosphere and team spirit.

Spa Business spoke to Lasse Eriksen, development manager for Farris Bad in Norway, who is both a judge and board member of Aufguss WM, which organises the event.

“Aufguss brings the ancient ceremonies together as each sauna master shares his/her culture through the use of fire, earth, water and air.

“It's a physical, spiritual and social experience that gives you a sense of being present in the moment,” Eriksen said.

“It’s a modern way of storytelling within the sweat room and a good storyteller can take you on the deepest, most magical journeys and combined with good steam it becomes powerful.”

The next World Championships are scheduled to be hosted in the Netherlands at Thermen Bussloo between 12-18 September 2022.



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