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February 13, 2012


It's time to celebrate the simple joys of ice skating. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, winter has provided frozen playgrounds for all to enjoy. Ice skating takes many forms, from speed skating to professional hockey to figure skating to sliding around on a pond. In the Netherlands, hope was high that the Elfstedentocht, or Eleven Cities Tour, could take place on frozen canals for the first time since 1997, but ice thickness was thus far insufficient to support the estimated 16,000 skaters who would take part in the 124 mile event. Techendorf, Austria hosted an alternative event for 6,000. Gathered here are images of people enjoying the combination of smooth ice and steel blades. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

A family skates across Mendenhall Lake in Juneau, Alaska on January 16, 2012. (Michael Penn/The Juneau Empire/Associated Press)

A participant in the Frisian Shorttrack Championships wears traditional clothes and wooden skates during the race in Techendorf, Austria on January 26, 2012. Techendorf hosted the Alternatieve Elfstedentocht Weissensee, a traditional Dutch series of speed skating events for both professionals and amateurs with some 6,000 participants. (Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters) #

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France perform in the pairs free skating competition at the European Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield, England on January 26, 2012. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press) #

Hockey players chase the puck during the New England Pond Hockey Classic hockey tournament on Lake Waukewan on February 3, 2012 in Meredith, N.H. (Jim Cole/Associated Press) #

Ned White ice skates on Aster Lake in Sequoia National Park, California on January 6, 2012. The area is usually blanketed in snow at this time of year, but December was one of the driest on record. According to the California Department of Water Resources, the snowpack water content in the Sierra Nevada mountain range is only 19 percent of the average for the beginning of January. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters) #

People skate on the frozen Sihlsee Lake in the Euthal valley in Switzerland on February 5, 2012. (Urs Flueeler/Keystone/Associated Press) #

Thousands of people skate on the Rideau Canal and take part in Winterlude festivities in Ottawa on February 4, 2012. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press/Associated Press) #

The Dutch army is deployed on the alternative route of the Eleven Cities Tour (Elfstedentocht) to make the route over the Hegemer lake in Woudsend, Netherlands free from snow on February 8, 2012. The Eleven Cities Tour is the world's largest speed skating competition and leisure skating tour, and is held in the province of Friesland only when the ice along the entire course is 15cm thick. Picture was made using a remote-controlled helicopter(Paul Raats/AFP/Getty Images) #

Four skaters enjoy the first time they can skate on natural ice in Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam on February 4, 2012. The 19 windmills near Kinderdijk are on the UNESCO world heritage list. (Michael Kooren/Reuters) #

Children practice their ice hockey skills on the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam on February 8, 2012. (Tony Burns) #

Skaters ride a stretch of the 11 Cities Tour itinerary as they pass through the village of Hindeloopen in northern Netherlands on February 8, 2012. (Peter Dejong/Associated Press) #

People skate on the frozen Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam on February 8, 2012. In Amsterdam, several of the city's famous canals have frozen over, giving residents a rare opportunity to skate along waterfront houses. (Margriet Faber/Associated Press) #

Michigan and Ohio State play an outdoor college hockey game in Cleveland on January 15, 2012. (Mark Duncan/Associated Press) #

A young girl skates on the frozen canal of castle Nymphenburg in Munich on February 1, 2012. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press) #

Kalli Harverkampa shoots on Graham Earle as they play hockey at South Lake in Buffalo, N.Y. on January 22, 2012. (Harry Scull Jr./The Buffalo News/Associated Press) #

People on an ice skating rink are seen through a hole of a building that was damaged during the Civil War of 1975-1990 in downtown Beirut on January 29, 2012. (Jamal Saidi/Reuters) #

Ian Coumans, Sasha Stoeffelmayer, Derek Wedge, and Louis-P. Dumoulin skate during a "crashed ice" race in Valkenburg, Netherlands. (Joerg Mitter/AFP/Getty Images) #

An athlete competes in the 1500m women's speed skating event at the Olympic Speedskating Oval on January 16, 2012 in Innsbruck, Austria. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) #

A young couple enjoys a cold afternoon ice skating on a frozen pond in Prague on February 3, 2012. (Petr David Josek/Associated Press) #

The Washington Capitals' Marcus Johansson (right) is upended by the Montreal Canadiens' Josh Gorges during NHL hockey action in Montreal on January 18, 2012. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters) #

Sweden's Viktoria Helgesson skates during the Gala Exhibition event of the European Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield, England on January 29, 2012. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press) #

Canada's Francois-Louis Tremblay competes during the men's 1500 m final B at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating competition in Moscow on February 5, 2012. (Anton Golubev/Reuters) #

In this photo shot with a fisheye lens, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Matt Cooke celebrates his goal past Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas during Pittsburgh's 2-1 win in an NHL hockey game in Boston on February 4, 2012. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press) #

Hockey players (left to right) Colin Wilkey, Robert Keilig, and brothers Cameron and Jonathan Durling play on Kimball Pond January 19, 2012 in Hopkinton, N.H. (Jim Cole/Associated Press) #

Youths play ice hockey on frozen Lake Bled in Slovenia on February 7, 2012. (Dusan Stojanovic/Associated Press) #

Roby Littlefield gives her dog, Adelee, a sled ride on Swan Lake in Sitka, Alaska on January 20, 2012. (James Poulson/The Daily Sitka Sentinel/Associated Press) #

People form a line of ice chairs while skating on a frozen lake in Beijing on January 25, 2012 as part of a temple fair, which are held in Chinese cities during the week-long holidays after Chinese New Year. (Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press) #

Some of the 1100 skaters compete in the 124 mile race in Techendorf, Austria on January 27, 2012. Techendorf hosted the Alternatieve Elfstedentocht Weissensee (Alternative Eleven City Races Weissensee), a traditional Dutch series of speed skating events. (Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters) #

People skate on the ice paths at a park in Moscow on January 12, 2012. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images) #

Men ice skate on the frozen fens in Welney, England on February 4, 2012. (Darren Staples/Reuters) #

People skate and play ice hockey on the Nosice reservoir on the Vah river in the village of Udica, Slovakia on February 4, 2012. (Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters) #

A participant in the Frisian Shorttrack Championships drinks traditional liquor between two heats of the race in Techendorf, Austria on January 26, 2012. (Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters) #

A referee wears traditional wooden skates during the Frisian Shorttrack Championships in Techendorf, Austria on January 26, 2012. (Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters) #