The Frisian ‘fierljeppen’ season kicked off on the 15th of May with the first competition of the year in Buitenpost. With a tremendous leap of 19,34 meters junior Wisse Broekstra outjumped all competitors, including senior winner Ysbrand Galama who managed a respectable 18,45 meters.
Fierljeppen, literally translated from Frisian as ‘far leaping’, is considered the national sport of Friesland. It consists of a sprint, used to build momentum, followed by a leap towards a standing pole, a scurry as far as possible toward the top of the pole, and finally a landing, typically on a sandbed.
In essence, the fierljeppen bears some similarity to the pole-vault, but unlike pole-vaulting fierljeppen measures distance rather than height. This is due to the sport’s historical origins as means of crossing the scores of canals scattered throughout the country.
To participate you require a ditch or canal that is ideally filled with water, and a long pole (polsstok) with which to propel yourself. The poles used in competition measure 13,25 meters and nowadays are usually made from carbon fiber. The senior’s world record, held by Jaco de Groot, is an astonishing 22,21 meters.
The competition in Buitenpost marks the beginning of a 4-month long season. The season itself consists of 83 events across a variety of age groups and skill levels, with a final grand championship scheduled in Linschoten for the 3rd of September.
Looking to read up more on fierljeppen? Check out our previous coverage of this fascinating Frisian sport here!