Italian wins sauna contest

An Italian beat more than 100 contenders to win a Sauna World Championship staged in Styria at the weekend.

The competition – held in a spa in Graz on Saturday and Sunday – did not focus on how long people could endure boiling hot temperatures but on participants’ techniques of creating a perfect sauna experience for others.

Helmuth Haller from South Tyrol, Italy, managed to convince the jury – formed by the audience – with his Inca-influenced infusions. Other participants tried to win over the crowds with their Arabic and gladiator-themed infusions. Haller succeeds fellow countryman Andreas Kofler as winner of the event. Belgian Dirk van Offel came second this year. Julio Gonzalez Rincon from Colombia made third place.

Rivalling competitions of the Austrian edition have been in the news over the past years when competitors had to be hospitalised with burns and serious internal injuries or even died trying to outdo others about who leaves the hot cabins first.