The Dutch and Ice Skating Posted by noortje on Feb 3, 2010 in Dutch Language
Besides soccer, one of Holland’s favorites sports is ice skating. As soon as the canals, rivers, and lakes freeze up during the coldest winters, the Dutch take out their ice skates to the frozen waters. Kids practice by putting on ice skates with double blades next to each other for better balance. Usually the parents take a chair on the ice for the kids to lean on to practice their moves. Adults sometimes go hardcore by wearing “Nooren”, skates with long blades made for long distances and speed. People who are just out for fun usually where figure skating skates, because they are more stable and easier to ride on.
But besides just for fun, the Dutch also created competition on natural ice, called the Elfstedentocht (the eleven city tour). For almost two hundred kilometers ice skaters from all over the country conquer the natural ice in Friesland, from one city to another, until they reach the eleventh city where the finish is. The Elfstedentocht is organized by the Koninlijke Verening De Friesche Elfsteden in Leeuwarden, the main city in Friesland.
The first time this ice skating competition was organized was in 1909. Unfortunately, not every year the Elfstedentocht is taking place, because of the condition of the ice. If the winters aren’t cold enough, the waters won’t freeze and logically, there is no ice skating. Until now the Elfstedentocht occurred fifteen times. Each time it is a huge deal in Holland and many people follow the competition all day on TV.
You don’t have to be a professional if you want to be a part of this competition. People who just want to experience it once can enroll and so can everyone who want to have some fun or the ones just trying to get their face on TV. But in the end the fame goes to the one who wins and he or she becomes a national hero until the next Elfstedentocht, or until he is forgotten. Because that happens. Especially since the last tour took place in 1994…