Speedy shovels shine in Slovakia’s grave-digging contest

Grave diggers compete  during the Grave Digging Championships in Trencin, Slovakia, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Grave diggers compete during the Grave Digging Championships in Trencin, Slovakia, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

TRENCIN, Slovakia (AP) — Ten teams from Slovakia, Poland and Hungary on Thursday turned mounds of ground in a competition to crown the fastest gravediggers in central Europe.

The Grave Digging Championships held in the Slovakian city of Trencin was meant to promote the funeral industry and bring some levity to a serious profession.

“This whole exhibition is about getting groups of funeral companies together,” event spokesman Christian Striz, who dressed as the Grim Reaper for the occasion, said. “It’s all about showing people how hard” the gravedigger’s job is.

The contest graded the teams on speed and accuracy, as graves had to be dug to exact specifications: 1.5-meters (5-feet) deep, 2-meters (6.5-feet) long and 0.9-meters (3-feet) wide.

No modern tools were allowed, only shovels and picks, which made for demanding digging for less fortunate teams.

“Gravel and stones – about 20-30 centimeters” of it,” Gabriel Draffy, from the Krematorium Molnar in Nove Zamky, Slovakia, said. “The others didn’t have that!”

A team representing Peter Pastorok’s funeral services from the Slovakian village of Kalna nad Hronom emerged as the winner.

The contest took place as part of the third International Exhibition of Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services.

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