Skip to main Content

Ouch! Ear-pulling champs are king, queen of pain

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published July 21, 2012

Vanessa Tahbone of Nome calmly pulled her way to the top during Friday's ear-pulling competition at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Tahbone, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, was last year's runner-up in the event. But this year she was undefeated in the double-elimination contest, beating out Michelle Strange of Anchorage for the title.

On the men's side, former gold medalist James Lampe of Kaktovik, a small town on Alaska's North Slope, collected the championship title.

Ear pulling is a traditional Inuit game in which competitors sit with their legs in front of their bodies and intertwined, facing each other. Competitor's left and right ears, respectively, are linked to their rival's via a two-foot-long loop of waxed string. From there, the game is more or less self explanatory: the two competitors pull. The idea is to endure as much pain as possible. The winner is the first man or woman to dislodge the string from the ear of their competition, withstanding the pain a little longer.

For more on Lampe or Tahbon, click here. For more information about the unique contests of World Eskimo Indian Olympics, visit the WEIO website. Trust us, you won't see any of this on NBC when the Summer Olympics start in a couple of weeks.