“It’s likely to be my last Speed Skating winter,” says Sven Kramer (NED), but the Dutchman doesn’t want to think about hanging up the blades just yet. “My focus is on the ice at the moment. I have to be at the top of my game in three months’ time, and I hope to finish on a high note at the Winter Olympics.” Coming fifth at the Dutch national championships last weekend, Kramer qualified for the first four ISU World Cup events this season but, for the 35-year-old, it’s all about the Dutch Olympic trials in December.
Despite significant success in Short Track, long track Speed Skating has long been a forgotten sport in Great Britain. Yet, the nation does have a rich Speed Skating legacy. “The Brits were instrumental in writing the rules for long track Speed Skating,” says Britain’s former racer Stephen Airey, who hopes to see the first British Speed Skater at the Olympic Games since 1992 in Beijing next year.
When he’s not on the ice chasing Speed Skating glory, the best way to relax for Patrick Roest (NED) is being home, milking cows or doing whatever other job needs to be done at his father’s farm in Lekkerkerk. “There’s always something to do,” he says. After a long summer, Roest is gearing up for the big Olympic season to come.
US Speed Skating mental skills coach Dr Nick Galli will not be trying to convince anyone that the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games is just like any other competition.
Lake Placid seemed to have forgotten its Speed Skating heritage over the past two decades, but the home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games commits to its roots with a complete overhaul of its famous Olympic Oval. The local Adirondack Speedskating Club hopes to open its new facility in December 2021.
For Dutch Speed Skater Thomas Krol, the days and weeks in the ISU Speed Skating bubble have flown by. Krol skated to ISU European Speed Skating Sprint gold in the first week, then picked up World Cup medals to finish off with the ISU World Speed Skating title on the 1500m. Krol, who aims to become a pilot in later life, also spent his time working on his future career. "I brought my computer with my flight simulator gear, so I can practice a bit," he said.
As the eyes of the world turn from Tokyo 2020 towards the ice and snow of Beijing 2022, there is no one better qualified than Clara Hughes (CAN) to sum up just what it is that makes the Olympic Games so enduringly special. Clara shares her wisdom and story on The Ice Skating Podcast.
For Italy's Francesca Lollobrigida being in the Bubble in Heerenveen meant far more than just being able to compete again. "We came here to prove that even Italy can be here after such a difficult time," she said. "We were finally able to skate in the same conditions as all the others." You can watch her journey in the Bubble in This is #UpAgain A Speed Skating documentary.
Olympians are very special people but even among such company Vincent De Haitre stands out. Not only is the Canadian about to join that exclusive group comprising those who have competed in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games, but once he has finished with track cycling at Tokyo 2020 he will then drop his bicycle, pull his speed skates back on and attempt to qualify for Beijing 2022.
In Speed Skating it’s all about small margins. One hundredth of second can make the difference between silver and gold. The friendship between Thomas Krol (NED) and Kai Verbij (NED) dates back to the time the two skated in the junior ranks.
If Canadian Speed Skater Ivanie Blondin had to describe her time in the Heerenveen bubble, it would probably all come down to just a few words. Blondin went from having serious doubts to feeling proud about her accomplishments.
Just after the 2020 ISU World Speed Skating Championships, Joey Mantia (USA) sat down and noted his goals for the 2020/21 season. One of those goals was winning the 2021 World title in the Men's Mass Start. Mantia did just that at the 2021 ISU Speed Skating bubble in Heerenveen, but the road to winning the world title was not easy for the 35-year-old and you can watch his journey in This is #UpAgain A Speed Skating documentary.
Norway’s Peder Kongshaug never skated on television before. This year, all his races were televised. And on top of that, he was part of the ‘This is #UpAgain: a Speed Skating documentary’. Kongshaug competed in his first senior international competitions and shared all of his experiences from the bubble in the documentary.
As a multiple world Speed Skating champion, Brittany Bowe (USA) went through several ups and downs in her career. “We all have a story,” she said. With her own personal story, Bowe hopes to inspire others.
Coming from the Estonian countryside, it was a long and winding road for Saskia Alusalu (EST) to become an Olympic Speed Skater. The compulsory rest due to the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic last season, made her realize how tough the life of a top-athlete is. She skipped the bubble races in Heerenveen and is seeking the best pathway towards the Olympic Games in Beijing next season.