1. Frisian children are born on the ice. Mothers drag their naked infant around the rink. Those that automatically turn onto their stomach are sent to a special skating school.
2. Children who attend the school are only allowed to sit down every second day. They have to keep moving to stay warm. They sleep outside, sitting on their chair.
3. Once a year, in mid-winter, kids from the skating school head out in the dead of night to complete the 200-kilometre Eleven Cities Skating Tour. Those that complete the tour, hand in their chairs. Those that don't, crawl to the nearest farm and become cowherds.
4. Traditionally, Frisian farmers come out onto the ice and try to convince the little skaters to stop, luring them with the promise of cacao and warm cheese.
5. In the terrible winter of 1963, Olympic champion Piet Kleine, then 13, cut open a Frisian cow with his skates, removed its innards and sheltered inside the cow for several hours before going on to complete the Eleven Cities Tour. (Notice how he still looks surprised.)
6. Piet is best known for his quote: "What's the reasian? I'm a Frisian."
7. The Netherlands began to fall apart in early 2018, following a brief border war between the provinces of Friesland and Drenthe sparked by a dispute over the origin of skating legend Piet Kleine. Fortunately, temperatures were too high for a traditional Old-Dutch Ice Battle. Provincial armies gather on either side of a frozen river. In a show of manhood, the soldiers are completely naked, wearing only their skates. When the signal is given, they charge, attempting to emasculate one another with the sharp blades of their skates.
8. Traditionally, Frisians will only bow to a king who has completed the Eleven Cities Tour. The current king, WiIIem Alexander, completed the tour in 1986.
9. Believe it or not, these brightly-coloured Dutchmen are on their way to work. They skate around in circles to prove their strength, while they are auctioned off to potential employers standing on the sidelines. The men from Unox (orange caps) buy the weakest to make sausage.
10. If you ever meet a Dutch person wearing a Unox cap, this means they have lost a close relative to the sausage factory. Dutch people take pride in the fact that their family member has helped feed the nation and restrict population growth.
11. Because talented Dutch skaters are taken away from their families at a very early age, many of them eventually make up their own names. Examples include Rintje Ritsma, Falko Zandstra, Sjinkie Knegt and Kjeld Nuis. The meaning and origin of these names are a strictly-kept secret.
12. Were it not for football and speed skating, the Netherlands would have fallen apart into seven separate states a long time ago. Our king is highly visible at these events, cheering on his countrymen, because he knows the medals will be melted down to pay him.
13. Dutch skaters attend special acting classes, where they are taught how to look surprised and say "it's un-fucking-believable" when they win a medal, even if it is not surprising at all.
14. On 1 January, young Dutch women gather on the ice to skate in circles in the hope of attracting a suitable partner. At the end of each lap, a pistol shot rings out as the last skater is put out of her misery. Despite being highly controversial, the Dutch cling to this tradition. The 2022 winner was Irene Schouten, who won for the sixth consecutive time and once again opted for a two-week skating holiday in Finland, instead of a partner.
15. The Dutch love skating on natural ice, but hate it if there are too many people on the ice. To avoid this, skaters in some provinces refuse to tell outsiders where they can find the best ice. These people, known as gekkies, believe their bright skating suits make them invisible.
16. There is only one thing Dutch people love more than skating in the great outdoors, and that is *talking* about skating in the great outdoors. This tradition is confirmed by this classic painting, in which there are more people talking about skating than actually skating.
(This post contains a selection of "ficts" previous posted on Twitter and elsewhere.)