Thursday morning my friend Gord Barrett sent me a link to the video below, which he found on the Guardian’s weekly YouTube sport round-up. Watch just the first minute of it and you’ll see why I found it enthralling.
Seemingly a cross between pairs figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized diving and, of course, bike riding, the entire video is absorbing, even with the Bryan Adams soundtrack.
The performers are Carla and Henriette Hochdorfer, two artistic cycling prodigies who won the Junior Masters Championships in 2008 and 2009, the 2009 German Championship and the 2008 and 2009 European titles.
Carla is 18, while her younger sister Henriette is just 14. They’ve got a staff of three guiding them and insuring that they excel in international competition.
According to the ever-dubious Wikipedia, artistic cycling was invented in 1888 by German-American Nicholas Edward Kaufmann but the first World Championship for men wasn’t held until 1956. Women had to wait until 1970 until they had a title to call their own.
It seems to be more popular with women, particularly in Germany. Katrin Schultheis & Sandra Sprinkmeier won the most recent World Championship while proudly sporting the black, orange and yellow colours of their homeland.
Unfortunately, the only other information I could find is this page that details the specs of the bikes and the performance area in artistic cycling.
If anyone has any more information on the world of artistic cycling – like whether or not it’s performed in North America – please leave a comment. I'm fascinated and want to learn as much as possible.