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04 Oct 2022

Historic number of winners crowned at 2022 Aufguss World Championships
BY Megan Whitby

Split into singles and team categories, the competition drew 68 participants from 13 countries

Split into singles and team categories, the competition drew 68 participants from 13 countries
photo: Ryszard Rak

From 12-17 September, the world’s top aufguss masters gathered in the Netherlands to celebrate the power of sauna and participate in the annual Aufguss World Championship.

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 seven-day sold-out competition gathered sweat enthusiasts from around the world and was hosted inside Thermen Bussloo’s new 200-seat sauna arena.

This year marked the first instance in which Japan and Romania took part in the competition. It was also the first time the event organiser – Aufguss WM – welcomed a new UK delegation to the event which will start competing in 2023.

Split into singles and team categories, the competition drew 68 participants from 13 countries who had qualified.

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

“Once a year, sauna enthusiasts from around the world gather around the steam to experience the most mesmerising aufguss performances on the planet,” he said, “this year, competitors pushed the boat out with new stylish techniques, difficult throws and magical shows.”

The new world champions
In the singles division, the judging panel dealt with a historic first after two entrants received a score of 537.25 points. The judges felt both performances deserved to be champions and, for the first time in history, crowned two world champions in single aufguss.

The first winner was Maciej Piczura from Poland – a previous world champion in both the single and team divisions.

This year was the aufguss veteran’s third time attending the event and his performance told a story about a man who was accused, arrested and sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit.

Eriksen praised Piczura for his emotive story-telling as well as his “beautiful waving techniques, style and control”.

“Maciej’s final aufguss was one for the history books and was one of the most technically difficult and wonderful modern classic styles we have ever seen. He is a well-deserved world champion.”

The second winner was Laura Lenders from the Netherlands who was performing in her hometown.

“What Maciej had in techniques and waving, Laura delivered in audience interaction,” said Eriksen, “her story was built around a woman who falls pregnant and leaves her husband after he wanted no part in the child’s life.

“Laura took us on a journey on all the challenges a pregnant woman goes through, all the way down to the facial expressions when giving birth! Laura made the story come alive and created a funny, thoughtful and engaging performance.

“Her waving skills and knowledge of sauna are immaculate and with her experience as a several-time finalist she certainly deserved to finally made it to pole position.”

In the doubles category, Italian duo Simone Mannelli and Massimo Gelli were named the champions after coming from behind in the qualifiers. Their performance was inspired by the story behind the creation of Florence’s iconic Brunelleschi dome.

Eriksen commended the team on their performance, calling them two “very passionate, experienced and technical aufguss masters who honoured their city and country”.

Next year, the championships will be hosted in SATAMA Saunapark outside of Berlin, Germany, which will coincide with the destination’s 10th anniversary.



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