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Jordan Stolz (USA)  World Cup Speed Skating  Stavanger(NOR) GettyImages 1244746298

Jutta Leerdam (NED) poses during the 2022 ISU World Cup Speed Skating 1 in Stavanger (NOR) @ISU

Four gold medals in four races. Jutta Leerdam (NED) set a perfect streak in 1000m at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series so far. After a summer of change, the 23-year-old Dutchwoman had not expected such a prolific season start.


In the run-up to the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022, Leerdam had set-up her own team with coaches Kosta Poltavets and Rutger Tijssen. She won Olympic silver in the 1000m and seized the World Sprint title in Hamar (NOR) a few weeks later.

Jutta Leerdam (NED) World Speed Skating Championships 2022 Hamar (NOR) GettyImages 1379375709

Jutta Leerdam (NED) poses during the ISU World Speed Skating Championships 2022 in Hamar (NOR) @ISU

Despite this success, she decided it was time for a change. Instead of spearheading her own team, Leerdam joined the successful outfit of coach Jac Orie, with among others the men’s Olympic 1000m champion Thomas Krol, sprinters Dai Dai Ntab and Merijn Scheperkamp, and Olympic 1500m bronze medalist Antoinette Rijpma-de Jong.

“I had to get used to it,” she said looking back on her switch. “Now there’s more good skaters in the team and previously it was all about me.”

Leerdam thinks that both ways are beneficial:

“I can hide a bit in the team every once in a while, and skate behind the boys. [Last year] it was good that is was all about me, and now it’s good to take the next step, where I can work a bit more relaxed.”

Sharing coach Jac Orie with the other skaters has made Leerdam more self-conscious.

“He [Orie] has to divide his attention. Previously I had Kosta [Poltavets] and Rutger [Thijssen]  who gave me a lot of feedback and I learned a lot. Now I have to depend more on my own feeling, without anyone correction me. “In the beginning, I was a little insecure, but I let it go and now I feel that I can trust myself.”

Following the Wüst example

Leerdam also went through a major change in her personal life, after splitting up with boyfriend and former skater Koen Verweij (NED), with whom she had set-up her former team.

“We already had our differences during last season, which was difficult, and splitting up wasn’t easy because we were together 24/7. He has been very important for my skating too, he gave me a lot of confidence. We were lovers, business-partners and friends. It’s a strange feeling not to share that anymore."

“But now I want to improve myself, develop myself with a couple of good coaches around me. It’s completely different.”

There’s no one replacing the role Verweij played in Leerdam’s development as a skater. She says:

“That’s something I do myself now. Of course I’ve got coaches, but I see Ireen Wüst as an example. She has been in many different situations, but in the end she was always good because she knew how to perform her own trick. That’s what I aspire too, and I think I’ve shown to be able to do that already.”

Jutta Leerdam(NED)  ISU World Cup Speed Skating 2022 Heerenveen (NED) ISU1442569622 (1)

Jutta Leerdam (NED) skates during the ISU World Cup Speed Skating 2022 in Heerenveen (NED) @ISU

Growing into the season

Jac Orie is known for his scientific data-driven approach of the sport. The first tests at spring training gave him a lot of confidence in Leerdam’s abilities.

“Initially, said that there’s a lot of room for improvement and after those first tests He said that there was even more room for improvement than he thought. The test results were good. When it comes to power, it’s very much okay, I can improve when it comes to technique and basic condition. This summer we worked a lot on my basic condition. We did a lot of cycling for example."

“It’s really different from last year and it might well be the case that will be worse in November than I was last season. That’s similar to how it used to be when I was a junior. I remember I didn’t even qualify for the first Junior World Cups, but I became World Junior Champion later that season.

Exceeding expectations

Despite her low expectations, Leerdam nailed it in every 1000m race so far this season. She beat Olympic champion Miho Takagi (JPN) at the first race in Stavanger and went on to win the next three in Heerenveen and Calgary (2x).

Miho Takagi (JPN) Jutta Leerdam (NED) and Kimi Goetz (USA) ISU World Cup Speed Skating Calgary (CAn) ISU 1245716205

Miho Takagi (JPN), Jutta Leerdam (NED) and Kimi Goetz (USA) pose during the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Calgary (CAN) @ISU

“It’s good to know that I can also win if I don’t skate a perfect race,” she said in Stavanger.

After the first of the two Calgary races Leerdam again said that her execution had not been hundred percent.

“But it doesn’t have to be perfect yet, especially when you win by a 0.7s margin,” she commented.

A week later she won by an 0.66 margin, despite having been plagued by the ramifications of her period.

“I was super sick because of my period, nauseous, feverish, strained. I even thought I wouldn’t be able to skate today, but I thought: forget about it, last week I was seven tenths faster, so maybe I can still win if I feel less strong.”

Winning four in a row gave her a boost:

“That’s not normal, I’ve never done anything like this. It gives me a lot of confidence. I think I’m actually quite a good skater. Every week, I’m stressed. I think: am I good enough? Next week I’ll again think that I can’t skate at all. That insecurity keeps me sharp.”

Leerdam intends to use these nerves to keep her rivals at bay after her immaculate streak at the first four World Cup events:

“I always want to improve. This is great, but I want to skate better every time, and then the gap [to her rivals] can only get bigger. And if they improve too, fine, I just want to keep growing and winning.”