Fierljeppen is a unique sport of the Dutch. It would help if you had a long cane, good health, good jumping, and a canal or river to cross.
This demanding sport originated in West Frisia, Friesland but has spread throughout the Netherlands, Germany, and other continents. We have everything you need to know about the curious Dutch sport of fierljeppen.
1. The origin of this particular sport
The Netherlands has a large part of its territory below sea level, with many trenches and moats crisscrossing the countryside.
To jump over these waterways, the Dutch used electric poles long ago. Old paintings by Brueghel showed Dutch people jumping over canals. The first written records date back to the 1200s.
Over time, it became a competition with its first official match in 1771.
2. How do you make the best Fierljeppen jump?
While fierljeppen may look like a typical countryside folk sport, the practitioner requires great technical expertise. Many different aspects have to be mastered in order to execute and land a successful jump.
This sport consists of a long pole and a canal. The column is 8 to 13 meters (26 and 43 ft) long and has a flat round plate to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of a river or channel.
A jump consists of sprinting to the pole (polsstok), jumping and grabbing the pole, then climbing to the top of the pole while trying to control its forward and lateral movement over a body of water and finishing by landing on a sandy beach opposite to the starting point.
If successful, the fierljepper will gracefully land on the other side of the canal on soft sand. If unsuccessful, you will be dropped into the river.
While fierljeppen’s goal is to go straight ahead, some opponents fall backward, and others fall into the canal. This often happens even at the highest levels as climbers try to cross the dead center (upright pole) as slowly as possible to maximize their climb time.
3. How do you win?
In fierljeppen, the only thing that matters is where a fierljepper lands. When a contestant lands in the sand, distance is the only thing that affects the score.
A competitor halfway up their pole can technically still win against another competitor who has reached their summit to the top, as long as they land at a longer distance.
4. National championships
The Dutch championships in fierljeppen are held annually at the Grijpskerk Arena, which has been used since the 1930s for this unique Frisian form of pole vault, ditch or tunnel jump.