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'Cautious' optimism about 11-city skating race, but will it thaw?

Monday 06 February 2012


There is a ‘cautious chance’ that the famous Frisian 11-city skating race or Elfstedentocht will be held in the current cold snap, Wiebe Wieling, chairman of the race association, told a news conference on Monday morning.

The ice in the north of the province is ‘fantastic’ but still not good enough in the south, Wieling said. 'That gives us cause for concern,’ Wieling said.

The association is now looking at possible alternative routes. ‘But at the moment we are far from the necessary 15 cm of ice. In some places it is far too thin,’ Wieling is reported as saying by news agency ANP.


According to the Telegraaf, hundreds of volunteers have been roped in to clear snow from the surface of the ice in an effort to promote thicker ice. Up to one third of the route will have to be cleared by hand, the paper says.

The ice needs to be at least eight centimetres thick to support machine-driven ice clearing equipment.

The 22 local ice association chiefs met on Sunday evening to discuss the prospects. There have been 15 of the grueling 200 kilometre races since the event first took place in 1909.


The cold snap, with temperatures as low as -15 Celsius at night, is set to continue for the rest of the week. Forecasters are divided as to whether the freezing temperatures will continue past next weekend.

According to the KNMI weather bureau on Monday, it will be very cold and sunny all week, with a 60-70% chance of similar weather after next weekend. But weerplaza.nl says a thaw is likely to set in from next Sunday.

And weeronline.nl says a warm front may start pushing in at the weekend, although it is too early to say whether a thaw will start.

Members only

If the race goes ahead, thousands of people will take part in an event that was last held in 1997. However, to join in, participants must be a member of the Elfstedentocht association and win a place to race in a lottery.

The last winner, sprout farmer Henk Angenent, completed the course along canals, ditches and across lakes in six hours, 49 minutes.

Leeuwarden is both start and finish of the event, which takes in the 11 'cities' of Friesland: Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen, Franeker and Dokkum.

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Photo: Novum

© DutchNews.nl

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