Sunday, February 25, 2018

Nordic Skating is on

Finally the Nordic skating season has started for real, in conditions one can usually only dream about. The archipelago of soutwestern Finland is getting ice, and the area of new ice without any snow is growing rapidly in the current cold temperatures.

The skating season on lakes started in the beginning of January, but on lasted for a week or so, before we got too much snow.

There was even a little sea ice skating, before the snow prevented it.

Then we got snow, which is also very nice. The winter was late, but since it arrived it has been quite nice. The skating season, though, had a break of one month, but now it hasn't snowed any mentionable amounts for a week and the cold temperatures has frozen big areas on the sea.

A first reconnaissance a bit west from Turku was promising. Very smooth ice that at one point got to thin, but the ice grows quickly in temperatures close to -20°C.

Two days later I joined a Skrinnari (the Finnish tour skating association) tour west of Turku and we had mostly very good ice.

And then it happened. The Archipelago sea got ice. Since these are the waters I often do kayaking in, I had a special interest in this. A Skrinnari tour went there on Saturday. The weather was cold and a bit windy, but the sun was shining.

The landscape opened up nicely.

The ice was generally thick enough, but there were the occasional wind wells. Open ones can be seen easily, but newly frozen ones can be dangerous if one doesn't read the ice constantly.

Smaller cracks in the ice can easily be crossed.

Mostly fantastic ice.

A wider ice channel that could not be crossed.

Skating along the ice channel.

A little rock island gave shelter from the wind during a break.

Some sections of uneven ice.

A happy skater.

The skating version of rockhopping?

Snow flowers do not affect the skating.

Ice patterns.

Rounding up.

The weather continues to be cold, but the weather forecast has some snow in it for next weekend. While snow is extremely nice, I could do without it just this one time, since there should be skating possibilities in the outer archipelago soon with this cold weather, something that doesn't happen often. Too much snow would prevent that.

And a final caveat: If skating on natural ice interests, don't go out alone. People go through the ice and drown every year. Join a Nordic skating club and learn to do it safely. Clubs are available at least in Finland, Sweden and to some extent Norway.

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