Norwegian sport of dødsing thrills

This belly-flop diving style from Frognerbadet is all about the fear factor

Photo: Pixabay  Dødsing—essentially a game of chicken against the dreaded belly flop—is increasing in popularity as a sport, with World Championships each summer.

Photo: Pixabay
Dødsing—essentially a game of chicken against the dreaded belly flop—is increasing in popularity as a sport, with World Championships each summer.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

Each year, more and more Norwegians flock to the high dive as the sport of dødsing gains popularity. What is dødsing, you ask? It is a unique diving style designed to thrill the divers and stun the spectators: the divers jump from a 10-meter high dive in an x-formation (essentially a belly flop) and curl into a ball immediately before hitting the water. The person who dares to stay in the flat position the longest wins.

Dødsing—called death diving in English—was originally developed at Oslo’s Frognerbadet in the late 1960s, most likely among young men hoping to show off their bravery to their friends.

The sport has come a long way since its modest origins in the 60s and has now been represented in a World Championship at Frognerbadet each summer since 2008. The first World Championship was a small affair, however, with only six divers and just over a dozen spectators. But by 2014, there were 2,000 spectators and over 70 participants, according to Aftenbladet.

The biggest factor in the growth of dødsing is undoubtedly the founding of Det internasjonale dødseforbundet (The International Dødsing Association) in 2011. The main goal of IDF is to develop the sport by sharing its value as a healthy and meaningful activity. Mathias Hansson, the Executive Director of the IDF notes that dødsing is a very spectator-friendly sport and hopes to see it grow in popularity across Norway as well as around the world.

Paul Rigault, IDF’s Media and Marketing Manager, notes that interest is already starting to spread around Europe: “More and more foreigners are joining as dødsing has begun to spread to the skiing, snowboarding, and freeride communities in other countries. This year, participants from Sweden, Finland, and Germany are coming among others.”

But who would actually be crazy enough to belly flop from 10 meters in front of a big crowd?

One of the daring participants in the 2014 World Championships was athlete Arne Veim Haugland, who also plays in Norway’s 3rd Division soccer league and 2nd Division handball league.

He explains his reasoning to Aftenbladet, saying: “It is both fun and challenging. It’s fun to push yourself a little, feel the adrenaline. Why should you do what everyone else does? I’m a little restless. I love to do things; everything should be tried.”

“It’s about being crazy and liking to challenge yourself while also having the ability to see exactly when you need to collapse in the air. One does not need to be super athletic to be good. You have to have guts and perform the jump with style,” Haugland told Bergens Tidene.

While dødsing was a natural choice for the thrill-seeking Haugland, participant Per Christian Fosse finds his interest in the sport a bit more unexpected. “It is a bit strange that I began with this because I’m actually not very fond of heights. But I try not to think about it,” he said to NRK. “I thought it looked so cool and I just had to try it. The first day I dived maybe 15 times in a row, but it’s normally maybe a max of six.”

“I come home with a couple bruises each time. It’s not exactly great to meet the water. But it is worth it,” admits Fosse. And it seems that many agree with him!

The next Dødsing World Championships should be coming up this August, and chances are it will be the biggest dødsing event yet. “I’ve always think that I’ve seen it all each year, but then I haven’t,” says Rigault.

This article originally appeared in the May 29, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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