January 26, 2016

Alternative Elfstedentocht streams live from Austria

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 1:46 pm

On 26 January as of 7:30 CET you can follow a whole bunch of Dutch and other skaters live with commentary, interviews and Dutch music (they’re live now) who have successfully cut work and shimmied down to Austria to skate the Alternative Elfstedentocht on the picturesque Weissensee in Austria.

The speed skating crown jewel tour Elfstedentocht is a brand that’s stronger than the Olympics Games in The Netherlands where speed skaters like Sven Kramer and Ireen Wüst are more popular than football players. Truth be told, the Dutch kick major ass at speed skating.

You don’t mess with the Elfstedentocht, even an alternative one, as skate fever knows no geographic boundaries: just move the show to the snow.

And if you’re not convinced or don’t quite get it, read the amazing story of Tinus Udding who kept a piece of his big toe he lost in 1963 while skating during a very harsh edition of the Elfstedentocht.

It giet oan. (Frisian for ‘it’s on’).

(Photo by Paul van Eijden, some rights reserved)

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January 5, 2016

The North turns into one big skating rink

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 9:09 pm

Today’s weather called for black ice in the North of the country, as the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) issued a code red with many accidents happening on the roads, albeit nothing fatal so far.

To quote Dutch football legend Johan Cruijff, “every disadvantage has its advantage”, as many people in places like Leeuwarden, Assen and Groningen were gripped by ice fever and took to skating on the streets (see video) because ice must be skated on when it’s there, a sentiment echoed by former world champion Renate Groenewold who ‘couldn’t resist it’.

There was even a fake event on Facebook, joking that the Elfstedentocht was going to be a tour of the motorways.

I scored a pair of free Dutch speed skates recently that I have not tried yet. These puppies really want to go outside now.


(Links: nos.nl, news.yahoo.com, Photo by Remko van Dokkum, some rights reserved)

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January 8, 2014

New Internet meme pokes fun at Dutchiness

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:52 am


Following in the footsteps of ‘Dudes be like’ and a lot of other similar memes, ‘Tattas be like’ is the newest Dutch meme to poke fun at typical Dutch values. The guy who started the thing off is of mixed Surinamese and Caucasian background, which explains his use of the word ‘tattas’, Surinamese slang for ‘typically white Dutch folk’ and not breasts like many would think. More digging would suggest that ‘tatta’ refers to ‘patata’ (‘potatoe’), something many Dutch people think is theirs, although potatoes come from South America and were introduced to Europe through Spain.

The creator explains that after serious discussions about racism these past months, he felt people needed something light-hearted. The new meme is successful because of how easily recognisable the situations are at least if you’re Dutch, live in the Netherlands or have some understanding of Dutch culture. The pic above refers to the Elfstendentocht fever that takes over the news the moment ice starts forming on the canals.

I chuckled at this one below because it depicts a typical Dutch birthday party. Family and friends sit in a circle, whether it’s favourable or not to having conversations, and eat cake and drink coffee until told to leave. ‘Fissa’ is slang for ‘feestje’ (party), which this isn’t — it’s a dreaded obligation. It also depicts the idea of ‘gezelligheid’ (roughly, ‘having fun’) that is forced upon people who then collectively must pretend it’s fun because it’s a birthday party.


(Link: motherboard.vice.com)

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December 24, 2012

Elfstedentocht fever explained

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:32 am

It is dreary and wet and not that cold, and this year the weather report even predicted the dreariness and not-coldness to last beyond the apocalypse, the perfect time to read about the mad panic that would sweep the country if winter were coming:

And then abruptly and over the protestations of our doubts it becomes apparent that the fate of our very society is placed into the hands of a tall, blond, probably very sober and severe man most likely called Siebe or Wiebe or Hidde or Fedde.


And our Siebe will look very sternly into the camera and solemnly proclaim ‘no’, because that’s his favourite word, further tests need to be performed, the thickness of the ice will be continuously monitored, and same time tomorrow. And the next day will be the same, the press conference live on every network, a solemn ‘no’, and DAY TWELVE OF THE PANIC CRISIS.


And all the nation’s eyes will have turned North, to a province so obsessed with ice they just went ahead and called the place Freezeland, like a theme park for masochists, and our man Siebe will appear again, with all the journalists in the land having run out of questions to ask him, and it’s just as well, because he makes a face as if he is about to be forced to eat something disgusting, and says,

and says, and says … you will have to read the rest of Paul G. Hunt’s wonderful explanation of how Dutch Elfstedentocht fever works to find out.

(Photo by Paul van Eijden, some rights reserved)

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February 6, 2012

Crowdsourcing measurement of ice thickness

Filed under: Online,Sports by Branko Collin @ 1:27 pm

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. IJsdikte.eu 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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December 24, 2010

Holiday food and skating fever news

Filed under: General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 2:35 pm

Here it is again, the tree I found in the trash a few years ago that adorns the office. The 24oranges crew has enough food and drinks to fill a bunker, and so pics will surely follow.

There are rumours that the Elfstedentocht (‘Eleven Cities Tour’), the outdoor Frisian skating marathon will possibly be on this year, the last one of which took place in 1997. Not only will we write about if it happens, but we plan on attending and taking pictures.

Read more about the Elfstedentocht on 24oranges:

Elfstedentocht stronger brand than Olympic Games

Winter fever Dutch style and time off

He brought a piece of his toe to the reunion

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February 11, 2010

Elfstedentocht stronger brand than Olympic Games

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 11:48 am

A recent study by HBB Consultancy revealed that the Elfstedentocht, a rare and gruelling outdoor skating race, is a better known and higher valued sports brand in the Netherlands than the Olympic Games, Algemeen Dagblad reported yesterday.

Both events are about as old, but the Elfstedentocht is held on average every seven years, when conditions in Friesland are harsh enough to freeze over 200 kilometres’ worth of canals. On the list of strong sports brands, the Olympics only get a peek in at three, after the Elfstedentocht and football goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

As for the athletes, Van der Sar is better liked among men, whereas women prefer speed skater Sven ‘Svencouver’ Kramer.

Although Ajax is rated the top brand among football teams, arch rivals Feyenoord take off with the best appreciated stadium (De Kuip).

(Photo by Remko van Dokkum, some rights reserved)

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January 11, 2009

Thaw to set in

Filed under: General,Sports by Branko Collin @ 2:29 pm

No Elfstedentocht for now. National weather institute KNMI predicts that Monday a period of thaw will set in, with wind coming from the South and from the South West. That also means that the country will not have had an official cold wave, which in the Netherlands is defined as at least five consecutive days of frost of which three dip below -10 degrees.

Somebody who won’t be skating for a while anyway is Eimer van Middelkoop: the defense minister broke his wrist during a 30 kilometer skating tour between Bleiswijk and Zevenhuizen, according to Nu.nl (Dutch).

Skating madness held the country in its grip the past weeks, but with the temperature dipping the lowest in the South, the madness spilled over to Belgium. The spokesperson for Vereniging De Friesche Elf Steden, the organizer of the Elfstedentocht, told BN/De Stem (Dutch) that most foreign journalistic attention stems from our Southern neighbours. One fanatic Belgian skater and past participant in the Elfstedentocht, Henri Jaecques, argues in Het Nieuwsblad (Dutch) that Flanders should have its own mythical skate race. “From Sluis to Ieper, 200 kilometer, and perfectly skateable.” The first part of that trajectory, a 16 kilometer strip from Sluis to Brugge, was declared officially open to skaters this weekend, according to De Telegraaf (Dutch).

Photo top: a chair in IJburg, Amsterdam awaiting the next novice skater or an ever grimmer fate.

Photo bottom: a frozen Noorderamsterkanaal.

Link: Weer.nl (Dutch).

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January 7, 2009

Winter fever Dutch style and time off

Filed under: General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 3:10 pm

Winter seems to be here to stay this year in the Netherlands, which means that canals and ponds stay frozen with or without the presence of snow, birds need to be fed bread so I keep hearing from bird lovers, and the country has skating fever. A business colleague proudly told everyone on a mailing list that she had tailored her work schedule around skating until it lasts. It’s safe to assume that employees are calling in sick as well and are on some frozen pond somewhere getting it out of their system.

As for myself, I just drove through Amstelveen and Oude Kerk aan de Amstel and saw tons of kids skating, like some modern Dutch winter postcard and spotted a place to sharpen my figure skates, should I join the party this weekend.

Tomorrow, the entire Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs gets a half day off to go skating. I asked the approachable and twittering Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen on Twitter if he plans on going skating, but he keeps telling us about meetings in Paleis Noordeinde where the Queen works.

The not so nice side to this story is that school children in the South of the country where the temperatures are lower and the ice is safer cannot just take time off to go skating because then the schools cannot meet their obligatory 1,040 hours of teaching lessons. What about the kids in the North of the country I just saw?

However, if the Elfstedentocht (The Eleven-cities Tour) is a reality this year, then they will be given time off to go and watch. It only happens every ten year or so and if not, they’ll all call in sick too I bet.

And then half the country will be unavailable, out of the office, sick, and just plain busy.

Last year we talked about a man who brought a piece of his toe to his Elfstedentocht reunion.

(Link: elsevier.nl, Photo: tvglorie)

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January 20, 2008

He brought a piece of his toe to the reunion

Filed under: History,Sports,Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:47 pm

Tinus Udding kept a piece of his big toe that he lost way back in 1963 during the very harsh Elfstedentocht (Eleven-cities Tour speed skating competition in the province of Friesland when it’s cold enough) of 1963. Competition skater and all-round tough guy, Udding brought his left toe bit to the Elfstedentocht reunion held two days ago, commemorating the 45-year anniversary of the 1963 edition. The toe will get its own spot in the Schaatsmuseum (Skating museum) in Hindeloopen. The Elfstedentocht of that year took place in -18 degree weather with ice cold wind. Only 69 people made it to the finish out of the almost 568 competition skaters that took part. Tinus Udding was 31st, minus one toe.

(Link: telegraaf.nl, Photo: tvglorie)

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