Crowdsourcing measurement of ice thickness


The Dutch are waiting for three magic words: ” It. Giet. Oan.” If uttered by the 22 district heads of the biggest ice skating endurance race this side of the Baltic, they will signify the start of said race, the Elfstedentocht.

But first the ice along the canals and lakes of the 220-kilometre-long Elfstedentocht has to thicken. provides a platform where volunteers can enter ice thickness in Friesland. Currently, there is a lot of ice of between 6 and 12 centimetres to be found. To be able to sustain the large amounts of people that would participate in the Elfstedentocht, the ice needs to be at least 15 centimetres thick. During the previous Elfstedentochten the ice was an average of 18 centimetres thick.

Earlier this morning the 22 district heads who had had their first meeting in 15 years, told the press that the ice was ‘fantastic’ in the North of the province, but weak in the South near Stavoren and Luts. At least another week of frost is required to freeze the weak spots. The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) predicted yesterday that the ice would reach a thickness of 25 centimetres on Saturday 11 February.

The 22 district heads will meet again on Wednesday.

The Elfstedentocht is only open to members, many of which have been members for decades. There are also people who were registered at birth, but who have yet to skate their first race. The last race was in 1997, and won by Henk Angenent. If the race goes on (‘giet aon’), the province of Friesland expects to welcome 2 million spectators.

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