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The Dutch and Ice Skating Posted by 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…

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  1. Ellen:

    I Think you are Dutch, aren’t you, Noortje 🙂 I am not sure, that is why I reply in English though. Again, a great compliment for your work on this website. Very interested topic again. As a Dutch woman, I grew up with Ice skating. Btw Where is Sarah?

  2. Peter Simon:

    A very informative article, and the video is fantastisch … But … a few terrible pieces of English. 1st par.: People … where=wear. 2nd par. – 2nd sentence=Unfortunately, the Elfstedentocht doesn’t take place every year.(sorry, why use present continuous??? and you don’t use a time adverb as a subject in E). 4th par.: Everyone who wants??? (everyone is singular, please!); same sent: or the ones just trying??? what does ‘the ones’ refer to? – ‘(everyone)… or who just wants to try’ is most probably correct, because after ‘or’, you have to use the same kind of structure you used before, not a participle structure and not a plural either, in this case. BTW, instead of ‘the ones’, ‘those who’ is English. English doesn’t seem so easy for you as you imagine. Different structures, different rules … Oh, and, Elen, it’s an ‘interesting’ topic, if YOU are interested. The topic never gets ‘interested’. The site is really good, though, I agree, thanks. Greetings from a Hungarian … 🙂

  3. Peter Simon:

    Ellen, I guess you grew up with your parent and siblings, but ‘on ice-skating’. Perhaps … or you grew up skating. You must have been born long before the last Elfstedentocht then … sorry

  4. sarah:

    Hello Ellen: I’m still here. Noortje is our Dutch blogger now, so you’ll be seeing posts from both of us, a Dutch native and a foreigner traversing the Dutch culture and language.

    Peter: Although your critiques of the language errors may be correct, I think it’s fantastic that someone who doesn’t speak English as a native language can write as well as Noortje or Ellen. Although I speak Dutch well, I make lots of errors here and there, most prominently in my writing. I think it’s most important that people are able to make themselves understood, and Noortje especially expresses herself quite well in English, a skill she should be very proud of. Writing in a foreign language is often one of the most difficult things to do.

  5. Ellen:

    Thank you, Sarah, for your kind words. I really appreciate that. I agree with you on yourr comment 🙂

  6. Aniek:

    my inner ice-skating loving Dutchie is popping up!
    Just want to say I love this blog(it’s nice seeing my tiny country through someone else’s eyes) but I just have to make a small correction, the last Elfstedentocht was 97 not in 94 😀 before that it was 85 and before that 84 🙂

  7. noortje:

    Thanks for the nice comments, folks! And Peter : you are right, I will keep your grammar comments in mind. I hope you could follow the content of the blog either how!

  8. Jelle:

    Just stumbling in and I have to correct the corrector. 😉

    Aniek, the last three Elfstedentochten were in 85, 86 and 97.