Ice bucket challenge, accepted! Josef Koeberl chilled out to attempt a new world record.

By Rachel Chang
September 08, 2020
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Josef Koeberl stands in a glass box as it is filled with ice as he is attempting to break the world record for the longest duration full body contact with ice on September 05, 2020 in Melk, Austria.
| Credit: Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images

Move aside Elsa and Anna, an Austrian man has redefined what it truly means to be frozen.

Last Saturday, Josef Koeberl sat in over 400 pounds of ice — wearing only swimming trunks — for two hours, 30 minutes, and 53 seconds in the town of Melk, Austria, located about 55 miles west of Vienna.

The reason for his chilly feat: to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest duration of full-body contact with ice, currently held by China’s Songhao Jin, who sat in an ice box for one hour, 53 minutes, and 10 seconds on the set of a CCTV special in Xiamen, China, on Sept. 4, 2014.

Credit: HERBERT NEUBAUER/AFP via Getty Images

The 43-year-old didn’t just take the polar plunge on a whim, though. He’s long been training for the endurance test, in which he sits in a box filled with ice up to his shoulders. Koeberl hit the two-hour, eight-minute mark in Vienna last year, he told CNN, and he hopes that in the upcoming days the Guinness World Record team will officially certify his time and approve his newfound title.

“I’m fighting the pain by visualizing and drawing on positive emotions, so I can dampen this wave of pain. That way I can endure," he told the reporters, according to the Associated Press.

For Koeberl, the pain comes with purpose. “My motivation was to go beyond my own limits and point out climate change at the same time,” he told CNN. “As I train a lot in high alpine terrain, I want to raise awareness on the melting of the glaciers.”

The chilly temperature isn’t the only challenge, as the impact and texture of the cubes also have an effect. Koeberl noted that one toe was initially crushed by a piece of ice, but that after it started melting, it was fine.

And Koeberl isn’t done taking these polar plunges. He plans to break his own record by repeating the stunt in Los Angeles in 2021.

Rachel Chang is travel and pop culture journalist who grew up in the California Bay Area and lives in New York City (well, Hoboken, NJ). She’s a solo travel advocate, dumpling addict, and reluctant runner — who managed to finish the NYC marathon twice. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.