The ice and skating school
What does the skating technique look like, what equipment should you have, and what's the difference between core ice and loose ice? In our skating school, we teach the basics of Nordic skating.
The ice expert Anders Tysk has been a skater since childhood, and ice reporter in Stockholm's ice skating club since 1986. He has authored "The Ice Book", "Skating Loops on Lake Ice" and "Leadership on Nordic Skates", and runs Vikingarännet – the world's largest skating race. On weekdays, Anders guides the Dutch on Swedish ice, and skates on natural ice several times a week during the season. Here are Anders' practical tips for the skating season.
BEFORE THE SEASON – CHECK THE EQUIPMENT
Review and update your gear – skates, boots and safety gear.
- Check that your boots (still) fit your feet. They shouldn't feel too small, but it's almost as bad if they’re too big, because that impairs the contact with the skates. If they’re newly purchased, you can dip the boots in water and wear them wet for at least an hour, that way they adapt to your foot. A great trick!
- Your skates should be short. For most feet, 45 cm fits well, 50 cm is a maximum. Short skates provide greater flexibility, which results in a more compliant skating technique. In addition, it’s more fun to ride on short skates.
- Practice your skating technique on artificially frozen ice during the start of the season.
- Skate on plowed tracks! A bit into the season, there are often plowed loops on natural ice. There you can practice your technique in a safe way, to later skate with skating groups.
- Hang onto an experienced skater, if possible, and imitate their technique.
- Skate with slightly bent knees, swing sideways and do your push-offs with your legs pointing straight out from your body. That way you use the power of your body weight in the most efficient way.
- Many people make the mistake of pushing backwards when taking their stride. Then the force disappears backwards, and is never converted into kinetic energy.
Safety equipment is a must when skating on natural ice. You should have the following with you:
- Ice spike – your sensory spike on the ice. If you are going on an organized tour, you need a double pole, alternatively an extra auxiliary pole/ski pole, to be able to keep your balance on bad ice.
- Lifeline – your extended arm. Have the rope easily accessible on the outside of the backpack, attached to the waist belt of the backpack. Practice throwing the rope by, for example, competing against your friends in the group to see who can throw the longest.
- (NOTE! If you're going through the ice, feel free to wait for someone to throw you a lifeline. It's the least power-consuming way to get up.)
- Ice studs – your life insurance. Always wear the studs around your neck or fixed on the backpack's shoulder strap.
- Backpack with change (waterproof) – the backpack is your life jacket, and should have a crotch strap to prevent it from floating up and risking you losing the buoyancy aid. Children must wear a normal life jacket.
- Friends – you should always have company on the ice. Preferably two people. Never ride alone!
BRIEF ICE KNOWLEDGE
- Core ice – the dark ice on lakes needs to be at least 5 cm to carry a person if it's cold outside. When skating over larger surfaces, you should add at least a couple of centimeters of safety margin to that guideline, as the thickness of the ice can vary.
- Loose ice – if the ice is grey, you should add a margin of a couple of centimeters (in other words, the benchmark is 7 cm on lakes, and 9 cm on larger ice surfaces). 2 cm of snow reduces ice growth by 90%, so be very careful when venturing out onto snow-covered ice.
JOIN ORGANIZED TOURS
- The best way to find skating companions and quickly learn the basics of ice knowledge is to join an association. Skating with a group enhances the experience!