- Title: NETHERLANDS: Global warming may put Dutch skating race on ice
- Date: 13th January 2007
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE)(English), HENK KOERS, CHAIRMAN OF ELEVEN-TOWNS-RACE, SAYING: "I grew up with skating. My mother took me in front of the stove and I got my skates on, and they brought me to the ice. And I hoped that I could bring my grandchildren in the same way, but I didn't see ice during the last ten years and my grandchildren are now ten years (old). eMBLEM OF ELEVEN-TOWNS-RACE ON MR. KOERS' JACKET (SOUNDBITE)(English), HENK KOERS, CHAIRMAN OF ELEVEN-TOWNS-RACE, SAYING: "When we went to school, I had to go on skates! Yeah, the popularity is depending on natural ice. I think [skating] will disappear and children are not interested in ice any more, not as much as it was in the past."
- Embargoed: 28th January 2007 18:34
- Location: Netherlands
- Country: Netherlands
- Topics: Environment / Natural World,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA3YNFL0MT6NDA4IK8VLOJDPU2I
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: As the Netherlands experiences its warmest winter in 300 years, there are fears that tradtional winter ice race may be a thing of the past.
The Eleven Towns Tour, a traditional marathon skating race along the frozen canals of the Netherlands last held a decade ago, may be put in cold storage if Dutch meteorologists' forecasts of global warming are correct.
The Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said 2006 was the warmest year since its records began 300 years ago, with an average temperature of 11.2 degrees Celsius. If the warming trend continues, the race held in January 1997, might have been the last.
"If we reach the 6 degree temperature increase at the end of this century, if we reach this upper limit, it means we changed the climate as much as nature did between the last ice age and now," meteorologist Rob van Dorland said.
The "Elfstedentocht" (Eleven-Towns-Race), considered one of ice skating's most gruelling challenges, attracts thousands of participants who try to cover almost 200 km (124 miles) on frozen canals and lakes through 11 towns in the northern Dutch province of Friesland.
The event takes place when the ice is at least 15 cm (5.9 inches) thick along the whole course, a condition that has been met 15 times in the past 100 years. Such a condition is met only after 2 weeks of constant temperature below zero degrees Celsius.
"I grew up with skating. My mother took me in front of the stove and I got my skates on, and they brought me to the ice. And I hoped that I could bring my grandchildren in the same way, but I didn't see ice during the last ten years and my grandchildren are now ten years (old)," Henk Kroes, chairman of the race's organizing committee, told Reuters as he gazed at an ice-free canal.
The KNMI forecasts that the Netherlands will be able to hold only four races this 21st century, with the chances declining as winters get milder. The absence of natural ice also impacts the popularity of skating as a sport.
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