Wok Racing 2014 Championship
Held in Koenigsee, Berchtesgadener Land, Bavaria, the 2014 wok racing championships – WOK WM 2014 – took place on March 8, with the gold medal going to Joey Kelly, silver to Georg Hackl and bronze to Armin Zöggeler. The team event was won by Otelo team with the four-member team from Jamaica comprised of Hanukkah Wallace, Marvin Dixon, Seldwyn Morgan and Wayne Blackwood. Georg Hackl’s speed record of 88.2 km/h set in 2012 remains unbroken. The four-person-woksled speed record of 97 km/h was set in 2006 by FROSTA team.
Wok racing is exactly what the name suggests – competitors seated in a Chinese cooking wok, racing down a bobsleigh track. Initiated by German entertainer and television host Stefan Raab, the wok racing championship has taken place annually since 2003, when Raab won the gold medal at the host venue in Winterberg. It should come as no surprise that the most enthusiastic supporters of wok racing are skilled lugers who are accustomed to hurtling down tracks at breakneck speed, at times reaching speeds of 140 km/h. The highest recorded speed of a luger was 154 km/h, set by Manuel Pfister of Austria at Canada‘s Whistler track. Of the three 2014 winners, both Georg Hackl and Armin Zöggeler are Olympic champions, while Kelly participates in a number of challenging sports including multi-discipline endurance events.
High-quality Chinese cooking woks are used in wok racing, with modifications being epoxy reinforcement of the bottom and polyurethane foam along the edges to prevent injury. Team woksleds consist of two pairs of woks held together by a frame, and the two pairs connected by a coupling. Much as in luge events, steering of the wok is done with shifting weight and body movements. Competitors wear well-padded protective gear and full-face helmets. To reduce friction competitors wear ladles under their feet, and woks are sometimes heated underneath with a blowtorch to enhance performance.
While it’s unlikely wok racing will become a winter Olympics sport anytime soon, it is a whole lot of fun for both competitors and spectators.