The annual event at Canada’s Takhini Hot Pools draws people from around the world competing for the title of the world’s coolest ’do’
Tendrils of steam curl up softly from the searing waters of Takhini Hot Pools, fed by a natural hot spring located just northwest of Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory. For decades, locals have taken to the mineral water there, high in calcium, magnesium and iron, for its therapeutic properties and warming capabilities, but more recently, Takhini has become the battleground for one of the world’s most hair-raising competitions.
Known as the International Hair Freezing Contest, the friendly tournament began as an extension of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, an annual festival held each February that celebrates winter sports like dog sledding and snowshoeing. Seeking a reprieve from achy muscles and the wrath of winter’s chill, athletes and spectators alike would soak together at Takhini. Noticing an opportunity, in 2011, a former manager challenged visitors to style their hair into frozen hairdos and take selfies. Employees would then select the wildest coiffure of the bunch.
Now in its ninth year, the competition is growing, just like hair itself. The contest now attracts several dozen participants.
“It was a pretty small affair up until 2015 [when we started getting some publicity],” says Andrew Umbrich, co-owner of Takhini Hot Pools. *“Frozen hair was something that was occurring naturally when people would bathe in the hot springs during cold weather, so the manager at the time decided to make a competition out of it.”