The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


As soon as the frost comes in and flooded tracts of land and ditches, canals and pools start to freeze over, the more than five hundred natural ice clubs in the Netherlands become active. An old tradition appears to be vividly alive. Sometimes an ice club has a combination rink: a flooded concrete container or asphalt lane, on which a few centimetres of ice are sufficient to skate on. The competition which club organises the first marathon on natural ice, is always exciting, every year. Later on the organisation of the tours starts. Mutual alignment among organisers of various tours takes place. The ice masters of the KNSB keep a close look at the growth and the quality of the ice, also for the safety of the skaters. Tours can be linked together to extra-long distances (125 miles) and then, of course, the Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) enters the picture. Naturally a koek-en-zopietent (a cake and soup stand) is present too. There are also competitions on natural ice, short track- and marathon matches. If there is no natural ice, the championships take place on artificial ice. After each skating winter the scripts and regulations are improved wherever possible. Skating on natural ice ensures connectedness and contributes to the health of the skaters.



The KNSB with its regions, committees, associated ice clubs (about 450, with some 150,000 members) and skating tour organisers (230), form the organisational and administrative spine of skating on natural ice. Besides there are around 200 training groups for various types of competition. And, of course, the Dutch population forms the major part of the community.



Some researchers say that skating has been invented in the Netherlands. We do not know if this is true, but the oldest iron skates, found in the Netherlands, date back to the thirteenth century. It was not before the middle of the nineteenth century that skating became a form of sport and play. Then the first ice associations were established. In 1882 the Dutch Ice Skaters Union was founded, later ‘Royal’: the KNSB (Koninklijke Nederlandse Schaatsenrijders Bond). Until into World War II there had been a separation of tasks between the KNSB and the ice unions and associations. The KNSB organised competitions, the ice unions did the skating tours and the maintenance of ice roads. The first organised skating tour was in 1900, with the Alblasserdam Ice Club. After the war the competitive skating sport, recreational sport, regulation and safety developed within the KNSB , in conjunction with one another. Still, however, the local ice clubs have a major role in skating on natural ice. They organise the tours and maintain the rinks. By lack of natural ice there are artificial ice rinks. The first one was opened in 1934. Meanwhile there are 21 artificial ice rinks in the country.



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