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Great Skates: Taking to the Ice in Amsterdam
When temps dip into the single digits in November, Dutchies show their passion for skating by taking to the ice at rinks throughout the city. Temporary facilities pop up in Leidseplein and Museumplein, where tourists join locals practicing jumps and twirls, hoping the city's canals freeze over. Rental skates are available in the festive squares, as are seasonal treats and hand-crafted trinkets at stands set up for the holiday season. For more ambitious skaters, the Jaap Edenbaan features an outdoor marathon skating rink, plus an indoor ice hockey and figure skating rink. Seasonal passes are available for recreational skating, after-school skating and disco skating on Saturday nights, when '80s tunes pump up the action and marathon skaters are banned from the ice. When prolonged frost is forecast, Dutchies sharpen their in-lines and keep a close watch on Schaatsen.nl, the national ice skating website. If thermometers register -4°C or below for four consecutive nights, the ice is deemed thick enough for an auto to roll over and safe enough for humans to skate on―a magical winter experience only possible in some years. If conditions are right, boats are blocked from a section of the Keizersgracht to prep for the Keizersrace, a 150-meter sprint down the ice held in numerous heats. The fastest man becomes the ‘keizer’ (emperor) while the fastest woman is crowned ‘keizerin’ (empress). The race was last held in 2012―the first time in 15 years.
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