It’s better than sex.

Speedskating on natural ice is a beloved Dutch national pastime. The tradition is alive and well — just not necessarily in the Netherlands, where climate change now yields winters too warm for the waterways to freeze over with any consistency. The consequences of this have been felt most profoundly in a historical event called the Elfstedentocht, a one-day, long-distance speedskating tour through 11 cities of the Friesland province. It maintains a sacred place in Dutch sports culture. This week, the original Elfstedentocht is passing a worrisome milestone: Friday will be the 8,070th day since the previous edition, the longest period without a race since its inception. But the Dutch refuse to let its spirit die. So every winter, close to 6,000 people from the Netherlands make a pilgrimage to Weissensee (Austria)…

A thousand Dutch skaters congregated before dawn on the frozen surface of the Weissensee, the long, slender lake that gives this small Austrian mountain town its name. The sky was dark, and the headlamps of the shivering skaters cast a spiritual glow onto the charcoal ice. They had been warned not to remove their goggles, lest their eyeballs frost over in the wind. The conditions, by any reasonable standard, were brutal. But the skaters were in heaven. “The most beautiful thing in life is skating on a floor of black ice, in the cold, hearing the sounds of ice skating in nature,” said Wim Wiltenburg, 53, a banker visiting from Tilburg. “It’s better than sex.”

~ Andrew Keh, from Racing the Clock, and Climate Change (NY Times, Feb 7, 2019)

Comments

  1. How sad they can’t hold their event at home; how. wonderful they can do it elsewhere… freezing my eyeballs is.not something I would purposefully put myself at risk for – even if it promises such sensations 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear David, I‘ve finally found my master. I‘m often being told to be the Person with the biggtest fund of fascinating but most irrelvant facts on this Earth (right after Hero Husband, that is!!!!) but NOW you‘ve fairly and squarely beaten me….. 🙂
    And didn‘t we know it all: Sex definitely is massively overrated!!!! Look what you could do – you could be freezing your eyeballs and at the same time SKATING
    🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. i’m sad that they cannot do this in their traditional place close to home, but love the description of this event and what it means to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Very interesting … SPEEDSKATING … ‘This week, the original Elfstedentocht is passing a worrisome milestone: Friday will be the 8,070th day since the previous edition, the longest period without a race since its inception. But the Dutch refuse to let its spirit die. So every winter, close to 6,000 people from the Netherlands make a pilgrimage to Weissensee (Austria) … ‘

    Liked by 1 person

  5. freddiegeorgia says:

    Perhaps sex on ice on speed skates is the ultimate? (I’m kinda relieved to say I will never know)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Quite the catchy ‘title’ … 🤨

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What we all need is headlights while we’re having sex. Otherwise this cant be better!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember eyelashes freezing while walking to University classes .. really messed with my “look” and that was 30+ years ago.

    And I also remember, as a teen, skating on frozen sloughs / ponds under the moonlight — the sound of sharp skates on fresh ice .. magic!

    I’m having skating envy over here!

    MJ

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Really interesting post, Dave. I was amazed when read more on the event and found out that between the original Elfstedentocht which was held in 1909, and the last one that was held in the original Friesland province in the north of the Netherlands in 1997, it had only taken place 15 times! Thanks for filling my snowy Tuesday morning, it’s definitely another snow day here in Parksville!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “It’s better than sex.”
    Well, David, it certainly lasts longer!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I have never skated on ice in my life we don’t have natural ice here far too hot

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I try to learn something new every day and today your share filled that slot. TY. The skaters with headlamps on Charcoal ice, must of been an amazing vision. I placed a bar of “charcoal” soap next to the soap dish, yesterday.
    I noticed words, Wim Wiltenburg, 53, a “banker” visiting from Tilburg. “It’s better than sex.” was someone evocative, skating naked? and needing assistance to prevent frost bite? btw this is the 2nd post this month that mentions s e x, truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved ice skating as a kid. These days I find the sport of ice dancing my favorite not-quite-sex-but-almost-as- good spectator sport. Some of the routines they do these days make you feel like a voyeur as you are watching. When they pair it with music like Santana’s Black Magic Woman, whew!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We were back in Montreal when you wrote this — and I skated at Beaver Lake, having brought my own skates from NY. It was incredible fun to be out there in the sunshine with everyone from toddlers (on skates) to seniors (on skates.) There were many lessons to learn watching everyone navigate, at speed, without bumping or falls or danger. It felt comfortingly Canadian.

    Liked by 1 person

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