Suzanne Schulting and Sjinkie Knegt are the Dutch strongest cards for the World Championships in Rotterdam and they shared some of their thoughts ahead of this event.
Q = interviewer (Selina Vanier for ISU), SS = Suzanne Schulting, SK = Sjinkie Knegt
Q: Long Track Speed Skating is huge in the Netherlands. How did you end up doing Short Track and why do you love Short Track?
SK: I started Short Track when I was nine years old. At the beginning I was on the skating for kids. The coach there was also the coach of the Short Track club in Holland and that’s how I got involved and he made me a Short Track skater. From then on everything went really fast, from the national team to World Cups and I am still here. I love Short Track because of the game. You compete against four or five people and not against the time like Speed Skating which is really big in Holland.
SS: I started the same age as Sjinkie, but also through normal skating just to learn. After that I was going to do Long track and my coach said “you could also do some Short Track to learn to skate good corners. So I started Short Track and was really excited about it, and I’m still here. The same as Sjinkie really. I love Short Track because of the excitement; we are racing against each other and fast people. I think that is really cool.
Q: What is your mind set going into this pre-Olympic season?
SK: I have the same mindset as what I have at any event. I go in do my job just like a normal World Cup and I think that is the way you should do it. Not put extra pressure on yourself. I think you have to see every competition like a normal competition. Only then you can have the best results and not put pressure on yourself. Pressure does not make you skate faster.
Q: Going into your third Olympics Sjinkie, do you think you can help Suzanne going into her first Olympics with your experience?
SK: Of course she can learn things through me but all skaters have to have their own strategies and do their own thing. If they have questions they can always come to me.
Q: How do you feel Suzanne going into your first pre-Olympic season?
SS: I’m not thinking about it that much. You just have to skate and have fun. If you put that much pressure on yourself, because it is pre-Olympic, I don’t think you will skate well. I’m just going to have fun and skate good and then we will see so I can be my best at the Olympics.
Q: Do you know the procedure in the Netherlands for you to qualify for the 2018 Olympics?
SK: We first have to get the spots of course from the Olympic qualifier from the ISU. After that we have to see who we are going to send from Holland. There are more people (competing in Short Track), with the girls it is a little different as there are not that many, but we have a lot of guys who can skate at the Olympics. So there will be a selection in Holland.
Q: Has Short Track become more competitive in the Netherlands over the years?
SK: Yes it is very competitive and difficult to get to the World Cups, Championships and Olympics.
Q: How do you feel about the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships being held in Rotterdam? The last Championships held in the Netherlands was in 1996.
SK: It is great to have a competition like that in Holland. I think we should have every year a big competition like a World Cup or a European Championships. I am really excited to skate for a home crowd at the World Championships.
SS: For me it’s the same.
Q: With the World Championships, how are you involved in promoting the sport in the Netherlands?
SK: Last year we had a World Cup and the year before the European Championships, so we are promoting the sport pretty well in Holland and hopefully there will be a lot of people to come and watch us. We will probably, just before the World Championships start, we will promote it more and we will see how it all goes.
SS: the World Championships is going to be a party and everyone is invited and can come and see us. I think it is going to be really great, just like the World Cup and the European Championships.
Q: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck for the rest of the season!