Ice skating: a Dutch tradition
Ice skating: a Dutch tradition
It is winter in the Netherlands, which means that everyone gets excited about ice skating. Ice skating is part of the Dutch culture, so it is definitely not something to skip in your integration! In The Hague region, you can choose from several ice skating rinks over the winter:
- From 9 November 2019 to 26 January 2020, a skating rink called CoolEvent Scheveningen is set up at Kurkhausplein. The heated patios of the surrounding restaurants on this square are the perfect place to relax and enjoy winter snacks and drinks.
- Skating rink De Uithof is the perfect place to skate for a few hours. Here, you can also follow a ice skating classes. With a 400-meter track and fun-drink, there is plenty of room to skate on the ice.
- Ice rink Ockenburg is an open air ice rink, opening hours depend on the weather.
- Skating rink Winters Delft is open from 6 December 2019 to 5 January 2020. There are plenty of fun activities to do in addition to skating and you can also enjoy drinks and a meal here.
An ice skating nation
Ice skating is a hot topic for the Dutch. During the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, American TV commentator Katie Couric said that the Netherlands dominates speed skating because it is "an important mode of transportation" in Amsterdam. Although of course not based in fact, her statement does reflect what ice skating means to the country: many Dutch enjoy strapping on their skates as soon as the weather permits it. The Netherlands is an ice skating nation!
As soon as outside temperatures dip below 0 degrees Centigrade, the Dutch get very excited. The colder weather brings along the possibility of another iteration of the famous Elfstedentocht. The Elfstedentocht is, literally translated, the 'eleven cities tour'. It is a 199-kilometre ice skating route through eleven historical Frisian towns. The route has participants skating on frozen lakes, canals and rivers. The Elfstedentocht can only start when the ice is at least 15 cm thick- something that doesn’t happen very often anymore. The most recent Elfstedentocht took place on 4 January, 1997.
Every 4 years, many Dutch people are glued to their TVs, watching the Dutch speed skaters perform during the Winter Olympics. Speed skating is known to be dominated by the Dutch. As of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Dutch have won 121 medals in speed skating, of which 42 are gold, 40 silver and 39 bronze.
Ice skating for beginners
It is rare in the Netherlands for canals, lakes and ditches to be sufficiently frozen over to safely skate on. Therefore, every winter many visit artificial skating rinks. There, you will be able to rent ice skates, no need to invest in a pair. And if, on the rare occasion, the Dutch waters are safe enough to skate on, definitely go ice skating on natural ice. This is one of the most exciting things you will ever do!
Please be safe in your ice skating endeavours: mastering this sport takes a lot of practice. The biggest mistake to make is going too fast. Take your time, and practice the right stance. Be safe, take your friends, and dress appropriately. Skating with a chair in front of you (leaning on the seat, while the legs face forward) can be a great start - it is how many Dutch were taught, as well. Of course you can also always take some ice skating lessons at your local ice rink. Have fun, and be safe!