Hunger for ice: First skaters of 2021 on natural ice last weekend

Photo by Bryan Rodriguez

The first natural ice-skaters of 2021 glided onto the ice of a flooded pasturage in the north of the Netherlands last Sunday.

The frozen pasturage, called the Rypstjerkerpolder, is often the first spot natural ice enthusiasts go to skate. This Sunday, the 31st of January, was the first time the ice was thick enough.

“It feels euphoric.”

– Jaap Jonker, Ice-skating fanatic

Among the first to enter the polder was ice-skating fanatic Jaap Jonker. “It feels euphoric” says Jonker. “My wife noticed it too, she said: you almost ran onto the ice, that’s how excited you were!”

Jonker is not alone in his excitement. “Every year the hunger for natural ice is huge,” says press officer of the national ice-skating society (KNSB) Carl Mureau.

“Every year the hunger for natural ice is huge.”

– Carl Mureau, press officer of the KNSB

But not everyone was convinced that the ice was strong enough. Photographer Anton Kappers was also at the Rypstjerkerpolder last Sunday but did not venture further onto the ice than strictly necessary.

“The ice was not even 2 centimetres thick,” says Kappers. Even though the water is not very deep in most of the polder, there are some ditches that you can’t spot very well through the ice, explains Kappers. He saw a few people falling through the ice.

Mureau shares Kappers’ concerns. Although he is happy that a group of enthusiastic skaters managed to go onto the natural ice last weekend, he thinks it is too dangerous in most places after just one night of frost.

“In the polder you can skate on a very thin layer of ice, because even if you fall through the ice the danger is relatively small, but even there it is not without risks,” he says. “Maybe this will cause a lot of people to think it is already safe to skate in other places.”

If you want to be certain that you can safely skate on natural ice, you can go to ice rinks of skating societies. Which rinks are open can be found on

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