The temperature outside was -70 degrees Celsius. We are currently a couple of months into the Antarctic winter’s complete darkness and the worse winter in the world.
In the true spirit of the Antarctic winter, I had set up the world’s coldest game of tennis.
Wilson had kindly provided a net, racquets and balls.
It was an international match… France vs. UK. Where I represented UK, my opponent was the Concordia French Seeded No.1, Glaciologist, Sebastien Aubin (Frenchie II).
Shiraz Wine to mark the boundaries
We measured and marked out the boundaries of the tennis court with Shiraz Red Wine (!) since we have so much of it here. The ice was shaken off the net and our countries flags fluttered proudly in the Katabatic back-wash winds. Within 30 minutes the balls had frozen solid so had to be rotated through the inner pockets of our duvet outer wear containing hand warmers. It turns out tennis balls can freeze and in doing so loose their pressure and bounce. We played under the cover of a blanket of stars- the world’s clearest and most splendid view of the night sky.
Struggling for breath in the hypoxia and heavily breathing air below -25 Celsius, ice crystals can actually form inside your lungs which can cause internal bleeding. We played on… it was to be a case of the last man standing. I felt my hand freeze to my racquet… an advantage perhaps?
Spirit of Antarctic sport
After suffering exhaustion and a break for tea, we called the game a draw in the spirit of sport in Antarctica. Its dangerous to win at games in Antarctica… revenge may come in any form at anytime… from any direction. A blunt strike to the head from behind, a favourite sandal frozen in a block of ice as a joke, a laxative dinner, and so on.
Moaning about the Weather
In the week that Wimbledon begins… I leave you with this thought…
Whats a bit of rain at Wimbledon compared to playing in -70 degrees Celsius in the depths of the Antarctic Winter darkness at 3800 metres equivalent hypoxia.
The grass is always greener on the other side
I envy the US South Pole Amundsen Scott Station only for the fact that they have an indoor sports hall. Lucky sods. We have to do things the old fashioned way. I’m lucky I didn’t forget my PE kit…
That game, nearly cost me another 2 fingers. Fortunately we had the sense to stop playing before our noses ‘dropped off’. And yes, for those of you wondering, that it an official medical term.
A video of the game is currently being edited by Wilson and will feature during Wimbledon… The Coldest Game of Tennis in the World. I will post it here when it becomes available.