The Netherlands takes to its skates

The Dutch will take to their skates en masse this weekend as the big freeze enters its last days. Dozens of official routes have been opened up across the country’s lakes and waterways.

The 200 km 11-city skating race around Friesland’s may not be going ahead but hundreds of people on Friday followed the Elfstedentocht route unofficially.
However, the Friesland ice association warned that parts of the route are extremely dangerous because the ice is not thick enough in places.
Instead, there are some 30 other official routes in the northern province for skaters to follow, the association says. The province’s water authorities have also agreed to keep pumps turned off for the duration of the weekend, to allow skaters to make the most of the ice, and good weather.
In Amsterdam, skaters have been able to take to the city’s 17th century canals for the first time in 15 years. On Saturday, short track races will be held in the city centre.
Elsewhere, there are dozens of official ice trails set out for keen skaters to follow. For a full listing, see
The thaw is forecast to set in on Sunday.
Photos: Martijn Zwennes

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