TORONTO -- (Marketwire) -- 04/10/12 -- In just over 100 days, when the world gathers in London for the Games of the XXX Olympiad, athletes will compete in 39 total disciplines from across 26 sports. From archery to wrestling, you may think you will see it all. However, if you span the globe, you will find competitors gathering regularly for sports that, while they draw a crowd, are not on the radar of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). At Cheapflights.ca, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, we have picked our Top 10 Quirky Sports around the Globe. Perhaps we can all help boost their fan base enough for future Olympic consideration.
From camel racing to tuna tossing to Quidditch, the Cheapflights.ca Top 10 Quirky Sports around the Globe showcases competitions that have loyal followers, local ties and strong entertainment value. Here are five of the sports you can see for yourself here in North America:
•Greasy Pole Climbing - This messy and challenging sport is a crowd favourite in a number of corners of the world, including Indonesia, Brazil, the UK and the Caribbean. Depending on the local tradition, competitors try either to shimmy up a vertical pole laden in grease or to reach the end of a slickened horizontal pole without first splashing onto the sea. While grease-pole climbing made a one-time-only appearance in the 1904 Olympics, the biggest stage now for the sport is the Greasy Pole Competition, which takes place every year during St. Peter's Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Forty to 50 men aged between 18 and 60 test the slipperiness and attempt to be the first to reach the end of the pole and grab the red flag at the end. The pole is 45 feet long and can be anywhere from 10 to 25 feet from the sea at Gloucester Harbor. The pole is heavily greased with biodegradable axle grease and, to make it extra slippery, anything from Tabasco sauce to banana peels are added. Due to the popularity of the contest, there are strict rules regarding who is eligible to walk on the pole. The event is currently held on Friday, June 29, Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1 -- always at 4:45pm.
•Corn Hole - Basically a hipper version of horse shoes, Corn Hole (also known as Corn Toss in Canada) became the new standard for tailgating, barbecues and all other styles of outdoors parties throughout North America after college students in the Midwest put it on the map. A one-handed sport, Corn Hole can be (and most often is) played without ever putting down your beer. However, true competitors in the sport, which is thought to be based on a game created by Native Americans, play in tournaments sanctioned by the American Corn Hole Association. There they vie in two-person or two-team matches, looking to rack up 21 points by landing more of their bean bags than their opponents' on the raised board (1 point) or through the 6-inch-diameter hole at its centre (3 points) from 27 feet away. Prize money has been creeping up over the years and now can be as high as $20,000.
•Quidditch - Yes we mean the sport that Harry Potter and his friends played. "Muggles" now play it -- well, except for the flying bit. Imagine instead people running astride broom sticks, working to get a ball through a hoop without getting smashed by an opponent aiming another ball at their heads, dodgeball style. Or chasing a gold-suited player darting around, carrying a sock stuffed with tennis balls that serve as the important "snitch" that must be captured to end the match. This low-flying version of the game started at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005 and now plays out at more than 300 college and high school campuses across the US, Canada and 11 other countries. Statistics come from International Quidditch Association, Inc., which also hosts the annual World Cup and is considering an exhibition match in London to coincide with the Olympics.
•Outhouse Racing - Rugged living leads to rowdy sports, or so it would seem given those who embrace the sport of outhouse racing. Found through much of the upper Midwest and West in the US through the Canadian Rockies and on into Alaska, this is a sport of hometown fun and foolishness. The Australians practice it too, though there it is known as dunny racing. By either name, it's a sport you can get a mental picture of quickly. Or possibly not. Here's how it works in one Australian town: Every second year in September, the town of Winton in the outback of Queensland hosts the Sorbent Australian Dunny Derby. Twenty "dunny jockeys" sit astride dunnies on wheels pulled by a team of four to race to the finish line of a 250-metre track. All the jockeys are weighed in before and after each race and a professional race caller is present to call the race. Then just pick your favourite dunny and bet on it, although you may not win as much as the winning team, which is given AU$3,000. After the Derby has finished, everyone joins together to sing and dance to their favourite country music.
•Pumpkin Chunking - Champions of this autumnal sport can send gourds more than 4,000 feet in the air. In fact, the World Record pumpkin flight is more than a mile (5,545.43 feet to be exact). While Pumpkin Chunkin happens, formally and informally, throughout the US and Canada, the biggest competition is held annually by the World Championship Pumpkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA) in Sussex County, Delaware, the first full weekend in November. The competition features catapults, air cannons, trebuchets and even human-powered categories for firing the pumpkins, and also has kids divisions. For aspiring fans, tune into the Science Channel, which airs the event on Thanksgiving Day proceeded by an hour-long special about the preparation for the World Cup called the "Road to the Chunk."
For those looking to travel a little further in the name of quirkiness and/or sport, we round out our list with some options that are found more often overseas: Camel Racing; Cheese Rolling; Tuna Tossing; Buzkashi (goat tossing); and Bun Climbing. To read about these uncommon competitions and to see the complete list of Cheapflights.ca's Top 10 Quirky Sports around the Globe, visit www.cheapflights.ca/promos/top-10-quirky-sports-around-the-globe/.
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Cheapflights Media is an international media network helping over 11 million visitors a month find top travel deals. Our Cheapflights brand was launched in 1996 and pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users. Today, users compare a wide range of deals from hundreds of partners including online travel agents, consolidators and airlines to find the very best flight deals. With a mission to be the starting point for travel, Cheapflights works to deliver the industry's best airfare bargains, expert tips and inspiration. There are currently Cheapflights sites in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia & New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain. For more information, visit www.cheapflights.ca. Our newest brand, Momondo, is a leading travel search engine for finding comprehensive worldwide pricing and availability on airfares. Winner of several awards, the site is ideal for users on specific travel schedules. For more information, visit www.momondo.com.
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