Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) October 01, 2009 -- When it involves perfectly sane adults rolling, jumping, running and bouncing their way down an extremely steep, dangerous and muddy hillside, in pursuit of an 8-lb wheel of Double Gloucester Cheese, one wonders what will be classed as the next extreme sport?
The yearly competition at Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake has been held in the U.K. for around 2oo years. This year it drew around 6,000 spectators and featured 200 dare-devil competitors risking serious injury across five races. The winner gets the round of cheese.
This year three of the competitors were hospitalized. Injuries such as concussion and broken bones are common.
New Zealand and Italy too, are getting in on the act, as well as a contest at Mount Washington alpine ski resort in northeastern United States. Canada has just had its second cheese rolling contest at a Farmers Market at Whistler's Resort, in British Columbia.
Some people believe the ancient competition dates back to Roman times and may have been part of a pagan ritual for health, or the changing of the seasons.
The Celebrity Swiss Cheese Rolling classic, at Emmentaler Festivile, on Berne's Waisenhausplatz, Switzerland, is a much safer competition. This year it was won by world champion ski jumper, Andreas Kuettel, 30, who beat Miss Earth Graziella Rogers. The competitors rolled 100 kilo wheels of cheese round an obstacle course in Bern, demanding great agility and skill.
Kuettel said, "This run was a great deal of fun. Of course, since I am rather competitive by nature, my ego got the best of me when taking part in the Cheese Run". Among other entrants at the start were former Miss Switzerland Anita Buri, football legend StÃ©phane Chapuisat, hit singer Marianne Cathomen, TV chef RenÃ© Schudel, and Berne's mayor Alexander TschÃ¤ppÃ¤t.
This particular event commemorates the ancient practice of rolling full-size cheese wheels, up to one meter in diameter and 27 centimetres thick, around dairies by hand. Even today, professional cheese-makers can move the cheese wheels, at jogger-like speeds.
No doubt Kuettel found cheese rolling a much safer sport than winning the gold medal in the individual large hill event at the Nortic World Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic.
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