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Pentru ultima data: Elfstedentocht/For the last time: Elfstedentocht

Ca sa inchei foiletonul despre Elfstedentocht, ultimele stiri: Dupa ultima postare de miercuri, am aflat seara decizia luata in timpul intalnirii sefilor de raion: turul tururilor nu va avea loc acum. Mare dezamagire mare, insa gheata nu a fost suficient de groasa pentru a permite organizarea evenimentului. Insa nu se exclude total ca va mai veni un inghet iarna asta, ceea ce va duce iar la discutii despre Elfstedentocht si va reincepe nebunia. Ieri s-a anuntat si oficial incheierea valului de frig care a tinut 10 zile (adica numai temperaturi sub 0 grade), pentru ca s-a inregistrat o temperatura de 0,5° C ieri dupa-masa. Acest val se afla pe locul 8 din istoria inregistrata a temperaturilor din Olanda. Ultimul val a fost inregistrat in 1997, cand a fost si ultimul tur, poate si de aceea au fost atat de entuziasmati olandezii de data asta… Se mai poate patina inca pe gheata naturala in Olanda pana duminica, dupa care gheata va incepe sa se topeasca. Ce ma bucura cel mai mult la incheierea acestui val de frig este ca am putut in sfarsit ieri sa folosesc masina de spalat, ceea ce nu am reusit in ultimele zile din cauza unei tevi inghetate

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In order to close the feuilleton about the Elfstedentocht, I give you the latest news: After my last post on Wednesday, in the evening we heard the decision of the rayonheads: the tour will not take place now. Big disappointment, but the ice was not thick enough in order to make the tour possible. But the fact that there will be more frost this winter is still seen as a possibility, in which case the discussions and madness about the Elfstedentocht will begin again. Yesterday it became official: the coldwave that lasted 10 days (meaning only temperatures below 0 degrees) ended yesterday, when a temperature of 0,5°C was measured in the afternoon. This wave is now situated on the 8th place in the history of registred temperatures in Holland. The last coldwave was registred in 1997, also the last time that the Elfstedentocht was held, so maybe that’s why the Dutch became so enthusiastic this time… It is still possible to skate on natural ice in Holland until Sunday, when it will start melting. The thing that makes me happiest about the end of the coldwave is that yesterday evening I was able to use the washing machine again, which was not possible in the last days, because of a frozen water pipe.

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Stiri despre Elfstedentocht 2012/News about the Elfstedentocht 2012

Inevitabil, ma vad nevoita sa revin cu stiri despre Elfstedentocht, acum cand alte stiri de fapt nu mai au nicio importanta.

La televizor se plange lumea ca tot ce aude la radio are legatura cu Elfstedentocht, iar la radio si pe internet se plange lumea ca tot ce vede la televizor are legatura cu Elfstedentocht.

Disperarea a fost mare, cand a nins bine vinerea trecuta, ceea ce e foarte rau pentru gheata, care sub un strat de zapada sta la caldurica si nu mai creste. Asa ca s-au mobilizat oamenii si au iesit la curatat zapada de pe gheata, ba chiar si armata a trimis soldati in acest scop.

Duminica seara a avut loc intalnirea sefilor de raion si luni s-a organizat o conferinta de presa. Concluzia a fost optimista, desi gheata nu era inca nicaieri pe parcursul turului suficient de groasa, in medie intre 6 si 10 cm, in loc de min. 15 cm. Intre timp, olandezii s-au entuziasmat si mai tare, au inceput sa sune hotelurile din zona si sa faca rezervari pentru weekendul care vine sau sa se inscrie pe o lista de asteptare, in cazul in care va fi nevoie. Unele hoteluri au anuntat ca vor ridica preturile pana la 500 de euro, in loc de 80 de euro, si ma gandesc ca mare dreptate au, pentru ca tot se va gasi lume care sa plateasca banii astia.

Sefii de raion au mai spus si ca se gandesc sa organizeze turul chiar si intr-o duminica, desi oficial este o zi de odihna, insa daca atunci ar fi conditiile propice, se va organiza. Asta pentru ca de duminica incolo se anunta dezghet, asa ca in weekendul care vine ar fi probabil ultima sansa. Partidul pentru Libertate (PVV), de extrema dreapta deci mare iubitor de tot ce este olandez, a propus ca ziua in care se organizeaza turul sa fie o zi libera pentru toata lumea, o sarbatoare nationala, pentru ca turul celor 11 orase este “un fenomen deosebit de frumos, o combinatie de elemente sportive si culturale, care sunt unice si autentic olandeze”. Eu am o banuiala cum ca propunerea asta vine in urma deciziei de a organiza turul si intr-o duminica, daca va fi nevoie, astfel incat toata lumea sa fie oricum libera si sa nu beneficieze de o zi libera in plus. In Olanda a existat traditia de a da liber copiilor de scoala, pentru a se bucura de gheata, patinand sau oamenilor muncii, cand din cauza inghetului nu se putea circula. Multe scoli au organizat saptamana asta iesiri cu copiii pe patine, pentru ca ocaziile sunt atat de putine, incat trebuie profitat la maxim de ele.

Azi e o zi decisiva, desi conditiile meteorologice nu sunt deloc bune, nu mai sunt temperaturi atat de scazute, dar va avea loc o noua intalnire a sefilor de raion, asa ca mai toate televiziunile sunt pregatite sa intrerupa programul normal in seara asta ca sa ne aduca vesti in urma intalnirii.

Ca sa mulga acest potential eveniment cat de mult posibil, un cantaret popular la masele din Olanda, Wolter Kroes, a scris si inregistrat in numai doua ore o melodie dedicata turului. Acelasi cantaret a inregistrat succese cu cantecul “Viva Hollandia” cu ocazia Campionatului European de Fotbal din 2008, va dau un link cu acest hit, pentru ca melodia noua inca nu a aparut: 

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ENGLISH VERSION

Inevitably, I feel compelled to come back with news about the Elfstedentocht, now that all other news seems not to be important anymore.

On the television, people are complaining that all they hear about on the radio is about the Elfstedentocht and on the radio and internet people are complaining that all they hear about on the tv is about the Elfstedentocht.

The despair was big when last Friday it snowed pretty much, which is very bad for the ice, which under a warm layer will not grow anymore. So people have volunteered and cleaned the snow off the ice, the army has even sent soldiers to help doing this.

Last Sunday evening, the rayon heads have had the first meeting and Monday there was a press conference. The conclusion was optimistic, although the ice was not thick enough anywhere on the 200 km of the tour, about 6-10 cm, instead of min. 15 cm. Meanwhile the Dutch have become even more enthusiastic, they started to call the hotels on the route of the tour and to book rooms for the coming weekend or ask to be put on a waiting list, in case it will be necessary. Some hotels have announced that the prices will be higher in the event of the tour, even EUR 500 for a room which otherwise would cost EUR 80 and I think they are right to do so, because they will find people willing to pay that much.

The rayon heads have said that they are thinking about organizing the tour even on a Sunday, in spite of the fact that oficially it is a day of rest, but if the best conditions are met on a Sunday, the tour will be held. That’s because from Sunday on thawing is being forecasted, so probably the last chance for this winter will be in the coming weekend. The Party for Freedom (PVV), a right-wing extremist party so a big lover of everything Dutch, has suggested to make the day of the tour a national holiday, so that everybody in Holland is free, because the tour of the eleven towns is “an extraordinary beautiful phenomenon, a combintaion of sports and culture, being unique and authentic Dutch”. I have a strong feeling that this suggestion is made as a result of the decision to organize the tour even on a Sunday, if necessary, so that everybody would be free anyway and wouldn’t have an extra free day. In the Netherlands there was a tradition of giving schoolchildren a day off to enjoy the ice by skating and even for the workers, when the traffic conditions where very bad because of the frost. This week many schools have organized skating trips with the children, because the occasions are so scarce that one must take advantage of them as much as possible.

Today is an important day, although the weather conditions aren’t good at all, the temperature is not so low anymore, but still a new meeting of the rayon heads will take place this evening, so that almost all tv channels are prepared to disrupt the normal programme in order to bring us the latest news after the meeting.

In order to milk this potential event as much as possible, a singer who is popular with the Dutch masses, Wolter Kroes, has written and recorded in only 2 hours a song dedicated to the tour. The same singer was very succesful with his song “Viva Hollandia” written for the European Footabll Championship of 2008, I give you a link of the hit, because the new song isn’t out yet: 

 

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The Dutch obsession or the Elfstedentocht phenomenon

After the news about the heavy snowfall in Romania has reached the Netherlands, it seems to me like a good time to reveal to you the national obsession, spread like an octopus on Dutch minds.

Every single winter, as soon as it freezes -2°C, you hear enthusiastic Dutchmen predicting that it won’t be long until the ice will be thick enough for the ELFSTEDENTOCHT!

I’ve been living here in Holland for 5 years and until now no Elfstedentocht has been held, because it has never been cold enough. But the way that most Dutchmen seem to light up automatically from the smallest sign of frost and start to mention this tradition, is really unbelievable.

Elfstedentocht means “the tour of the eleven towns” and is organized by the Royal Association of the 11 Towns in Friesland, Friesland being one of the provinces in the North of the Netherlands, with an own language. The association was founded in 1909 and organizes since then this skating tour, not more than once a year, but depending totally on the temperatures outside, because the skating occurs on natural ice from one town to the other. Already on the first page of the association’s site there is a remark about the way that Dutch people react when there is frost, I quote: “When, after a few nights of strong frost, it becomes exciting to know if the tour will be organized, you will be able to read here all  about it.”

Below is a map of the towns, just to give you an idea. The people skate from town to town, on lakes and canals (Holland is full of them), between the fields, under bridges.

Source: www.rnw.nl

The inhabitants of the province Friesland used to skate often for longer distances, because in the past a horse was a luxury not many of them could afford. For fun, a tour similar to the one now was skated several times, even centuries ago.

The tour starts and finishes in Leeuwaarden, the capital of the province, and lasts one day, the last time it was organized was on January 4th 1997. It must have been a great winter, when, after getting pneumonia by diving in the sea on January 1st (Dutch tradition), the Dutch were able to deepen the problem only 3 days later by skating in the cold for hours on end.

Since 1909 the tour was held 15 times, ONLY 15 TIMES! But maybe it’s the low frequency that makes everything so exciting, you can wish all you want, but if the ice is not min. 15 cm thick on most of the route of about 200 km, the tour will not be organized. When there are chances (minimal, believe me) that it might happen, the rayonheads (that’s how they are called) measure at least once a day the ice thickness , and if there are serious reasons, a meeting of the rayonheads will be held to decide whether it’s time to start it all.

Source: http://images.memorix.nl/naa/thumb/500×500/12854ba3-23bb-2ecb-bd9c-5c5cb816e6cd.jpg

Also, the weather institute is being consulted on a regular basis, as well as a weather forecaster known from TV, Piet Paulusma, who comes from the same province, so he has to be from there in order to be trustworthy in such matters of maximum importance. What do you think happens when there are places where the ice isn’t thick enough? I had never heard of such a thing: an ice transplant!!! In other cases a wooden construction will be placed on the ice or on its side, so that the skaters can hop on it until they reach ice again. Also carpets or rubber rugs can be used, but they try to use such artifices as little as possible.

In order to participate in such an event, you have to be a member of the association, because only the real passionated skaters should participate and no tickets should be sold for commercial profits.

At the start, the skaters receive a notebok in which they must collect stamps in every town and also from some secret control posts on the way, secret in order to avoid cheating by not skating all the route. At the finish within the maximum time period, every participant with all the stamps in the notebook receives an award: the cross of the tour of the 11 towns.

Source: http://neon.pictura-hosting.nl/fsm/fsm_mrx_bld/thumbs/250×250/fsm/00/FSM_058/FSM-1984-198.jpg

The first 11 men and the first 5 women (the discrimination is based on the smaller number of women who take part) also receive a medal.

Source: http://www.astroblogs.nl/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/tocht.jpg

In 1986 the tour had a very important participant, who wanted to remain incognito: prince Willem-Alexander.

Source:http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQKsbvJPC8kKJhBlMko6zUXmjDQ-DXUj4SwFdD9U25Z7zdIuptWyg

In 2008 a study was carried out (probably the impatience of the Dutch was already huge) and the conclusion was that, because of the change of climate, the chance of organizing a tour is once every 18 years. If this is true, I’m afraid we only have 3 more years until the next tour, until then we will keep getting annoyed every time there’s a little bit of frost.

 

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Tocht der tochten 2012 (English version)

The Elfstedentocht (see also the post about this Dutch phenomenon) also has a pet name: tocht der tochten, which means “the tour of all tours”.

Of course, the madness goes on and it will last until this frost period is over. A weather forecaster estimated the chances for organizing the tour soon at 20%.

A rayon head (responsible for measuring the ice thickness and for organizing the tour) said yesterday on tv that at least one week with max. temperatures of -15°C would be necessary in order to get to an acceptable thickness of the ice. Until now, the lowest forecasted temperature is of -10°C in the night from Friday to Saturday.

However, the passionated Dutch will not be intimidated by such informations. The pomping stations on the rivers have been stopped and the vessels may not sail anymore in the region, because still waters freeze more easily. Yesterday the first skating marathon on natural ice took place, the Dutch insist that it is natural ice, but I really don’t see how it could be, since people have wet an athletic ground and have let it freeze, OK, the freezing process was natural, but the water that froze wasn’t originally there! On the news yesterday I saw a mother with two children holding their skates in their hands and looking very disappointed as the ice was not ready for skating yet…  the despair is big, if after 2 days of moderate frost a mother gives her children skates and hopes that they can use them.

Maybe you are tempted to feel sorry for the Dutch who want to have an Elfstedentocht so badly and who have so much bad luck every year…  don’t worry, they found a solution. Since the ’70’s an alternative Elfstedentocht is being organized in Austria, well what did you expect, that the Dutch climate will stop us? If we have no proper conditions, we’ll go wherever they are and pretend to be skating the tour of the 11 Dutch towns while being abroad! One of the participants in Austria said he is checking the weather in Holland all the time and that he is convinced that he will skate the tour twice this winter, in Austria as well as in Holland. Why he is convinced about it I could never tell.

On tv I’ve also seen yesterday a compilation of the news of the past years, when, just as now, there have been speculations on this subject, but the tour of all tours still didn’t happen…  I don’t even know how to describe this obsession, it is kind of funny, but if you take it seriously it can be annoying and pathetic. I got so far that I start to wish it could go through, and even every year, then we would have peace at last.

On the same subject, this evening the Dutch national television will air the film from 2009 “The hel of ’63”, when a tour took place but the conditions were so bad, that only a few people managed to reach the finish. See the story of the movie here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1156132/plotsummary

To watch the film or not to watch? … That is the question 🙂

 
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Posted by on 1 February 2012 in ENGLISH POST

 

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