As the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and the holiday season is almost upon us, the desire for ice skating starts to appear.
The skating culture in the Netherlands is so big, that foreigners sometimes wonder if we skate to work when the canals freeze over. When asked about her ice skating experience, an international University of Twente student mentions how she had only skated 2 or 3 times before coming to the Netherlands. “I come from Florida so it is not a popular pastime. I had to travel far to an ice rink. Since I came to the Netherlands I have already ice skated much more, even on natural ice, that was exciting.”
She didn’t find it difficult to learn; “I have also rollerbladed which is a similar motion. But I did have to get used to it at first, just like riding a bike ;)”
Just like riding a bike, many international students have to get used to the rules involved with ice skating, so here are a few necessary rules and interesting facts about ice skating in the Netherlands.
- For skating on “natural ice,” the ice should be around 4 to 5 centimetres thick, although you should never skate alone no matter the thickness.
- When the ice is thick enough (around 16cm), the Elfstedentocht takes place; a skating tour past eleven historical cities in Friesland.
- The Netherlands have over 40 Olympic gold medals in ice skating and is thereby one of the most successful countries in the sport.
- It is normal to go without socks in a well-fitting pair of skates, though these will cost you a pretty penny.
- The two most popular types of skates are called “Noren,” with a longer blade; or “Ijshockeyschaatsen,” with a shorter blade. You can try out both and see which type you prefer.
If you want to partake in the popular Dutch pastime, or are looking for a fun activity to do with friends, you can buy your tickets for Ijsbaan Twente for only €5.95 at the UnionShop.