Hear the Otherworldly Sounds of Skating on Thin Ice
October 9, 2018 11:02 AM   Subscribe

This small lake outside Stockholm, Sweden, emits otherworldly sounds as Mårten Ajne skates over its precariously thin, black ice. “Wild ice skating,” or “Nordic skating,” is both an art and a science. A skater seeks out the thinnest, most pristine black ice possible—both for its smoothness, and for its high-pitched, laser-like sounds. YouTube video link.
posted by hydra77 (46 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Came for the laser sounds, stayed for the calipers.
posted by poe at 11:05 AM on October 9, 2018 [6 favorites]

This would be an amazing ring-tone. So cool.
posted by Fizz at 11:17 AM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Reminds me of years ago when we were throwing large rocks onto a frozen lake, having nothing better to do. Good fun, neat noises.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:20 AM on October 9, 2018


They look like they're blades with cross-country ski boot bindings on actual nordic ski boots. WHAT

Also 4.5 cm of ice is probably enough ice, yeah, but watching it fracture underneath you would be unnerving. I'd want to wear a PFD or a snowmobiling suit that floats because I fear death.
posted by GuyZero at 11:22 AM on October 9, 2018

OK hoy cow nordic skates are a thing!

Now I want to spend money I don't have on a new hobby I'll never do! argh!
posted by GuyZero at 11:25 AM on October 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

How can we talk about skating on thin ice and not mention Apetor?
posted by smcameron at 11:34 AM on October 9, 2018 [7 favorites]

tbh, all I could think of...
posted by gwint at 11:40 AM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Guyzero I think the bindings you linked are for skate skiing, a type of cross country skiing, and not made specifically for ice skating. Although after rewatching the video you are definitely right that it looks like he is using something similar to those on his ice skates? You can even see how his heels lift away from the blade around 2:10

Free the heel, free the mind. I only know skiers who talk like that, never heard of it on ice skates
posted by meows at 11:44 AM on October 9, 2018

Looks like Amazon sells ice skates mounted with NNN bindings here. This is a rabbit hole I'll have to go down after work
posted by meows at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Clap skates are a thing. It was an old idea that caught on in the mid 90s.
posted by fedward at 11:55 AM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sorry, yes, there's probably a lot of confusion for searches with skate skiing but maybe I should have linked to these which are bare blades that you mount a nordic binding like those to. At least I think that's how it works.
posted by GuyZero at 11:59 AM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

My wife and I have NNN bindings on our skiboots - this is a great idea. Winter in Minnesota is already around the corner...
posted by djseafood at 12:02 PM on October 9, 2018

Living in Sweden, ice skating on the lake by my town has been the highlight so far. They plow a 4km loop out off the shore, and half way what will you find but a hot-dog stand.
posted by anthill at 12:10 PM on October 9, 2018 [14 favorites]

The all-in-one långfärdsskridskor unfortunately seem to come with the NNN-BC slightly heavier-duty cross-country binding. If anyone finds some with regular NNN, please post in this thread...
posted by anthill at 12:12 PM on October 9, 2018

otherworldly indeed! like bird-creatures hooting overhead on the surface of Mars. or maybe sentient pogo sticks

something about the precariousness of the venture almost makes it more serene to watch, too, knowing that this incredibly fraught thing is happening due to very thorough planning and calm, confident execution
posted by Kybard at 12:13 PM on October 9, 2018

You can even see how his heels lift away from the blade around 2:10

I think this would have the effect of keeping his weight distributed across the length of the blade as he pushes off.
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:17 PM on October 9, 2018

Fizz: "This would be an amazing ring-tone. So cool."

skating on thin ice.mp3 (14 seconds, taken from the middle-ish part of the video)
posted by namewithoutwords at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

Oh god, this is the opposite of the PSAs I saw as a kid in Finland where we were very plainly taught that we would DIE if we EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT going on thin ice. I can't do it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:32 PM on October 9, 2018 [8 favorites]

Strangely reminiscent of natural VLF radio signals and underwater seal vocalizations.
posted by kmkrebs at 12:42 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

NNN bindings are norm because ice skaters want to reuse the boots they use for cross country skiing. Cross country skiing being going up the mountain and then down again. You need stiff boots for that and those boots are good for ice skating as well. If you are not a serious ski tourer you can use regular xc skating boots.

So not being a serious xc skier I use SNS bindings, but the stiffer ones you use for skating...

But anyway, go xc skating this winter, it's really, really fun
posted by uandt at 12:45 PM on October 9, 2018

I live near a small lake; it isn't plowed and I rarely see clear ice on it like in that video. I would be too terrified to try that, and have too much arthritis to skate, but if you go out on the frozen lake at night, you hear deep booming sounds as the ice expands.
posted by theora55 at 1:02 PM on October 9, 2018

Little known fact: The development of CD and DVD technology was delayed for years while engineers worked on ways to muffle the laser sounds.
posted by straight at 1:10 PM on October 9, 2018 [10 favorites]


posted by clavicle at 1:13 PM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Holy shit - at 1:47 as he skates by you can see the surface wave move at the camera.
posted by notsnot at 1:34 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was working on a trail project this summer farther north in Jämtland to a lake which was the subject of a viral skating video a few years ago. No spacey laser sounds, but amazingly clear ice and a dog clearly having a blast.
posted by St. Oops at 1:47 PM on October 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

This is really cool.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:52 PM on October 9, 2018

1. I have been told that some people take the Stockholm subway northwest to the suburb of Hässelby in deepest winter and ice skate back on Lake Mälaren to downtown or Södermalm.

2. Ice skating on frozen water scares me because I am a timid soul and I have heard (and read) too many stories about unfortunate deaths. Like, I am totally cheering on the rest of y'all, just cannot do it myself. I stick to the public rinks in town. When my husband was growing up in Sweden all the kids made a pair of these ice-pick-like tools in school. Their only purpose was to help you drag yourself out of the frozen water after the ice had broken under you so that did nothing to sell me on ice skating on lakes.

3. anthill, did the pontoon trailer stay afloat? What a great project!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

The sound of skating on thin ice, eh? That would be the SO saying something like, "I think that will be quite enough of that."
posted by Splunge at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2018

i can't skate worth a damn but now i want to really learn just to do that
posted by numaner at 2:24 PM on October 9, 2018

This looks amazingly fun, wow :D
posted by the thought-fox at 2:27 PM on October 9, 2018

I chuckled at the suggestion near the end of the film that, noting this is a dangerous activity, it's better to do it in a group.

No, I'm afraid that if you go out onto thin ice with a group you only increase your chances of a horrible frozen death.

(This video is lovely, I have never seen skates like that either, don't try this anyone! ... skate instead on that ice that
anthill mentions, the ice they drive a plow out on to clear off the snow and open a hot dog stand. That ice will hold you, and your group.)
posted by chavenet at 2:30 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

smcameron: "How can we talk about skating on thin ice and not mention Apetor

Or Yoko Ono?

posted by chavenet at 2:34 PM on October 9, 2018

Thats neat, but having fallen through the ice playing pond hockey, noooo fuuucking thankyou!
posted by rodlymight at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Meanwhile back in the year one...
posted by Daily Alice at 3:43 PM on October 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh yes, the sound of cracks following you around is amazing!

45 millimeter is actually quite thick. That's why Marten and the cameraman dare to stop and measure. A bit thinner, and you hear the laser sounds. Even thinner, and the cracks appear around the skates, around 2:10 in the video. That is what I would consider truly unsafe, if the shore is not nearby. That ice will break when you try to climb out of the water. And although the water is not very cold in lakes like this, hypothermia will set in quickly. Next time bring two icepicks Marten!

Then comes the ice that makes waves. That is 25 to 30 millimeters thick, just above an inch. Riding that is insane. You need impeccable technique to ride that, steady rhythm, even pressure on both skates and no scratching noise. Plus good speed.

I remember skating back on one warm day, the last day of winter. Just one canal, narrow and twisty, and a small lake, and my wife, a friend and I are back at our car, where hot chocolate and Beerenburg waait us. When we arrive at the canal, it is destroyed. Foot sized holes left and right and everywhere, marked by twigs. Most people had left the ice, opting to walk back, rather than to follow the narrow path that remained. That ice is suicide.

Four people are still on the ice, weighing our chances of skating that canal, to our reward.

Without notice, this other guy jumps in, and without thinking, I follow him. Within a second, we are on the narrow, weak ice. And then the ice changes. Suddenly I'm skating uphill on his wake. I am faster, but when I overtake our waves will combine and we will surely break the ice. I have to follow him, and pray he does not make a misstroke or I'd crash into him. Just a fifty meter sprint, 10 seconds perhaps, but it feels like ages. But we make it, dry, except for some pearls of sweat rolling.

My wife and a friend, seeing what just happend, decided not to follow me. Alas, the ice on the side of the canal could not carry them. They made it back on foot, and with the drinks and dry socks all was good again. That was when I learned the waves were 6 inches.

Here is a short clip from last winter. No waves, but with cracks and lasers!
posted by Psychnic at 4:09 PM on October 9, 2018 [14 favorites]

I love the idea of speeding along a (well-frozen!) lake or stream with the wind in my face, but there's no way I'd try it on thin ice. Not that I've tried it yet on even thick ice, but one of these days...
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:52 PM on October 9, 2018

Holy goddamned hell.
posted by eggkeeper at 8:16 PM on October 9, 2018

Y'all crazy.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:50 PM on October 9, 2018

How can we talk about skating on thin ice and not mention Apetor

Or Yoko Ono?

Or Kate Bush?
posted by moonmilk at 8:54 PM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

That ice scene from the second Omen movie has haunted me since I was a child. I don't think I could bring myself to try this.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:24 PM on October 9, 2018

I was lucky to have lots of opportunity to pond skate as a kid growing up in rural New Hampshire, though at the time it was often a cold and painful experience (always used hand-me-down skates that never fit too well). Some really great memories of skating lakes that had frozen totally clear like shown in St. Oops' video link, and the similarly magical feeling of skating through a marsh adjacent forest that had flooded right before a hard freeze...skating around trees!

My parents have nordic skates now and it looks like a blast.

My favorite ice activity by far though, and easily one of my top 3 'winter sports' (perhaps because good conditions are so rare that I've only been able to do it during a few weeks throughout my life) is ice boating. We had access to a 50 year old simple wooden boat with a moth eaten sail that could fit two people in its open cockpit, and though it's been years since I've been out I still dream about it. No sailing experience necessary; the ice makes the boat incredibly responsive to small changes to steering and sail placement so you will learn quickly how to get the thing moving. With the right winds you can easily get 30 mph and much faster if you had really good conditions. It really felt like flying, the 'wing' of the sail and the air and the ice all coming together to propel that rickety little boat to wild speeds.

Winter is coming! Yay!
posted by soy bean at 5:33 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you are craving that sound but either (a) don't want to risk an icy death; or (b) are an impractical distance from Scandinavia, you could always put a Slinky to your ear and let it drop. Or, if you really want to get the party started, you can make this Star Wars Slinky sharing device.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 6:24 AM on October 10, 2018

Suddenly I'm skating uphill on his wake.

MFers always trying to ice skate uphill.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:57 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

How can we talk about skating on thin ice and not mention Apetor

Or Yoko Ono?

Or Kate Bush?

Or Pink Floyd.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:13 AM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

ice is not so quiet
posted by theora55 at 6:15 AM on October 17, 2018

Reminds me of the sound of a Zube Tube. Had one when I was a kid.
posted by orange_square at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2018

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