As Visbeek writes, “The Netherlands is a small country of 16 million people, but it boasts a quarter of a million competitive speedskaters, and millions more who skate for fun.”
Natural ice in the Netherlands is a rare occurrence. Some winters have no natural ice at all. Maybe that explains why the Dutch love to skate outdoors. They hardly ever get the chance! But when a cold wave hits, and the interconnected maze of canals, rivers and lakes freeze over, it’s a spontaneous celebration, a national holiday.