Get your skates on: freezing nights raise hopes of winter sports fans

Skating on the Hofvijver in The Hague in 2012. Photo: Marco Raaphorst via Flickr

Plunging temperatures over the next few days have raised hopes that outdoor skating could be back on the calendar by the weekend.

Skating clubs across the country have been flooding fields and spraying concrete skate parks with water after weather forecasters predicted the mercury could dip as low as minus 7 in midweek.

Conditions are also expected to be mostly dry with little wind, making for perfect skating weather. However, with daytime temperatures remaining above freezing skating will only be possible on artificial, shallow rinks and there is no chance of a first Elfstedentocht in 21 years.

Ad van Winden, secretary of the Vlietland skating club in Schipluiden, told NOS: ‘Last year in February it was looking very positive but nothing came of it. That can happen again. But we’re always hopeful.’

Ramon Kuipers, of the national skating association KNSB, said two nights of severe frost were enough for people to be able to skate on a flooded concrete track. ‘For deeper water you need around five days,’ he said.

He added that a cold snap in winter was a potential lifeline for the sport. ‘If there’s no ice, fewer members join and volunteers give up. After a few years with no natural ice they don’t dare to ask for contributions because they have nothing to offer.’

Van Winden said his club had enough ‘loyal members’ who pay their subs through thick and thin to keep going. ‘But no natural ice means we have a problem, because that’s our core business. We really want to skate!’

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