‘First again!’ your Dutch roommate roars. ‘That’s our sixth!’ They’re watching the Winter Olympics, and the Netherlands have just won another medal for speed skating. Six gold, seven silver, and eight bronze medals, all for Speed Skating! ‘I thought the Dutch were Curlers,’ I say. They laugh. ‘You’ve obviously never heard of the Elfstedentocht…’
Actually, I had! It’s when the elves take to the streets to protest against their Zwarte Piet replacements!
According to my Dutch informant, however, I couldn’t be more wrong, as the Elfstedentocht is something considerably more exciting, and only slightly less aggressive. Translated to ‘Eleven Cities Tour’ in English, the Elfstedentocht is a skating tour that consists of two races: one is a speed skating event for over three hundred skating pros whilst the other is a race for over sixteen thousand more casual skaters.
Held in Freeze-land (more to come!), the event runs from Leeuwarden to Dokkum, but only when the natural ice is at least six inches thick across the whole course. Once the event has been announced, the race starts within forty-eight hours. Many of the Dutch say that, when the Elfstedentocht is declared, whilst Friesland ices over, the Frisians’ frostiness thaws.
The race should be held once a year; although, there can sometimes be an ice-drought that lasts for many years (hard to believe in Groningen, I know), making the race a rarity.
The event is a breeding ground for heroes. Losers become outcasts. Winners become kings: Ice Kings. Here is a clip of the latest winner’s celebration.
Following on from my dating article last week—and whilst you pray with the skaters for the big February freeze—here are some Olympic-themed pick-up lines that I overheard last night (no need to thank me):
‘I’ve got the biggest torch here, and it needs blowing out!’
‘Tonight, you can be like Holland’s medal count…on top…’
‘The slopes aren’t the only thing I’m going down on tonight…am I right?’
‘I may be Russian into things, but unlike the fifth Sochi ring, I’ll be opening you-‘ (he didn’t even finish that one before being righteously slapped!)
‘Guy: What’s the difference between curling and skating?
Girl: I dunno.
Guy: Sex. Let’s make sex. Please…stroopwaffles…and touching…’
I have a few Olympic jokes of my own, but they’re Sochi-zee, I’ll leave them for now…