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Giet it oan? Sneek, Workum, Hindelopen, Leewauden and 7 other towns await some visitors.

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#1 Fred not Lynn

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 03:02 PM

Cold weather in Europe has lead to the distinct possibility that the famous Elfstedentocht skating race may occur this year in the Netherlands, for the first time since 1997. The 200km event would feature 15,000 skaters passing through the Frisian countryside in an organizational spectacle that is second to none. Think 5 Boston Marathons back to back, except that you could fall though the asphalt on Heartbreak Hill and drown. Think about organizing a Tour de France on a weeks notice...while your entire country stops to watch.

Because of the rarity of the event, winners become lifelong celebrities in the Netherlands...and don't go thinking it would be fun to buy a plane ticket and jump in - a start license for this thing is harder to get than a free Super Bowl ticket.

They need to have 15 cm of ice over the entire route, so they have a ways to go before decalring the race a go - but the mere fact that the Elfstedentocht Society has even scheduled a meeting to discuss it is huge news to the Dutch.


http://www.rnw.nl/en...levencitiestour (LOTS of great coverage and history with this link)

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The finish in 1986. Miraculously conditions were good enough in 1985 and 1986 to have the race two years in a row. Even more miraculously, it was won by the same guy - Evert Van Benthem. Van Benthem now would be of those "never pay for a meal in this country again" level celebrities in The Netherlands, except that instead he's a simple rural Alberta dairy farmer (with the best herd, land, barns, tractors and other dairy equipment money can buy).

Plus, the Dutch are famously practical, and a little frugal - so they don't really have "never pay for a meal" sports heroes.

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Here is a map of the route, with, if I understand correctly, black lines where the ice is not thick enough and red where it is.

#2 Sausage in Section 17

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 09:39 PM

Guess it's off for the time being. Bummer. When you posted this I had a vague memory of it, and it would have been cool to follow.


#3 Fred not Lynn

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 10:26 PM

Reading further, there is still a possibility for further freeze after a thaw this weekend - but who knows. The last Elfstedentocht was achieved on a second cold snap. Apparently the TV commentator was near tears during the disappointing press conference.

In the meantime, even without the actual eleven-cities event, a solid week of good natural ice turns the Netherlands into a giant skating playground.

#4 Fred not Lynn

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 10:38 PM

Here's a nice film about the 1985 event - by Dutch TV in English.


#5 Hildy

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:07 AM

I would love to skate that route over a several day period--distance skating is so much more fun that circling around in a rink...

#6 Fred not Lynn

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 11:27 AM

Here's a great skating porn photo album from Boston.com.


And a little bit of amateur action from my own back yard
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Edited by Fred not Lynn, 15 February 2012 - 02:04 PM.

#7 Tony the Pony

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:48 PM

I saw this the other day. Sent it to my sister who moved from Amsterdam to Los Angeles a year ago, and whose homesickness now knows no limits ;-)

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#8 Sausage in Section 17

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 02:18 PM

WTF??? Ice Chairs?? Apparently the whole concept of skates continues to elude the Chinese.

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People form a line of ice chairs while skating on a frozen lake in Beijing on January 25, 2012 as part of a temple fair, which are held in Chinese cities during the week-long holidays after Chinese New Year. (Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press) #

Edited by Sausage in Section 17, 15 February 2012 - 02:19 PM.