Wiebe WielingPresident, The Eleven Cities Tour
Every winter, when the temperature drops and the ice starts growing on the Dutch canals, rivers and lakes, the entire nation has one collective thought: “Will it happen this year? De Elfstedentocht!“ De Elfstedentocht translates to The Eleven City Ice Skating Tour and is a 200 km race on natural ice. De Elfstedentocht is also called the “Tour of Tours” due to its harsh conditions and physically challenging nature.
Over the past 105 years the tour has only been ridden 15 times, since the ice needs to be thick enough everywhere to hold 24,000 skaters for the entire event. The actual race has a limited number of contestants (250 men and 150 women). The last one was 18 years ago.
Wiebe Wieling has finished the “Elfstedentocht” twice, so he knows the dedication and endurance necessary for such a challenge. His new challenge, in case of a really cold winter, is to organize the event, which attracts millions of fans and media to the otherwise not so crowded province of Friesland. Not such an easy task, as he is fully dependent on volunteers and the tour receives no sponsorships. For the past eight years, Wieling has been president of the Koninklijke Vereniging De Friesche Elf Steden (the Royal Organization of the Eleven Cities Tour).
Besides his love for skating and this amazing tour, Wiebe has dedicated his working life to education. Starting out as a teacher of economics, he soon became the head of several school boards, responsible for large improvements in program qualities, team building and school finances.