If I didn’t live in the Netherlands, perhaps I would never be aware how good the Dutch was in speed skating. They are, perhaps, the best speed skaters in the world. According to an article, Why Are the Dutch So Good at Speed Skating, almost 70 percent of all possible medals are to collect in speed skating usually goes to the Dutch speed skaters. I love watching them in action too. My favorites Dutch skaters are Ireen Wüst (female) and Sven Kramer (male). Both won the gold medals in Sochi’s Winter Olympics last year. In fact, the Dutch speed skaters team won 23 speed skating medals, while the second successful country, Poland, won 3 speed skating medals.
A famous skating event in the Netherlands is called the Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities race). This race is traditionally held in Friesland province, well-known province for their best speed skaters (Sven Kramer is originally from Friesland). The race is about 200 km (124.2 miles), and it is open air, follows a route along frozen canals, rivers, and lakes, visiting the eleven historic Frisian cities. It must be a beautiful route, but unfortunately, it has never happened during my period of stay in the Netherlands.
Whenever the winter is cold enough, the whole nation will get (too) excited and hoping the Elfstedentocht race will be held. I believe it was in 2012 when the winter was super duper cold, and the headline of Dutch news in radio, prints and television was mainly about the frozen Friesland’s canals, rivers, and lakes, whether the ice was sufficiently thick for the race. Unfortunately, the ice was not thick enough, thus, the last Elfstedentocht reminds in January 1997.
Although the Elfstedentocht has never been held during my residency in the Netherlands, it did not stop me to see the live speed skating race. The race was hold indoor in an ice arena called Thialf and of course, it was located in Friesland. I was happy seeing my favorite skaters won the race, but it was predictable and I was sure Ireen and Sven would win!
Have you seen a speed skating race? Do you like skating?