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14 February 2021

Eleven Cities Tour: Dutch skaters hope for a weather miracle to allow Elfstedentocht to take off

14 February 2021

The Netherlands’ hopes of staging its iconic sporting event look set, once again, to be put on ice.

The country has been waiting 24 winters for a cold snap like this one, but so far it’s still not quite cold enough.

That’s because very precise conditions are required for the ultimate Dutch sporting event, a 200-kilometer speedskating race on frozen waterways across 11 cities in Friesland - known as the Elfstedentocht.

Because it depends so heavily on climate, the race has been held only 15 times since 1909, most recently in 1997. But now there is a second threat on top of climate change, the pandemic. Under current Covid-19 restrictions, the race would not be allowed to happen, even if the ice grows thick enough.

But that hasn’t stopped Dutch speed skaters from watching the weather and their government, and praying for a way to make it possible.

The wait, and the hope, goes on.

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