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Итак, следующий день… Я провела прекрасные два дня на катке в Крылатском.
Не только потому, что мои фавориты Ирен Вюст и Свен Крамер получили главные награды, но и потому что у меня была возможность насладиться этими соревнованиями в полной мере.
Так волнительно следить за лучшим временем круга и со знанием дела оценивать возможности фаворитов соревнований, а потом ликовать с другими болельщиками и понимать, что каждый на трибуне действительно болен конькобежным спортом, а не просто поддерживает своих любимых атлетов.





Показательный пример этого я увидела в документальном фильме, который смотрела перед московскими соревнованиями.
Это фильм о самых первых соревнованиях на крытом катке, которые проводились в 1987 году на катке Тиалф, как раз в год его открытия.


(на 28-31 минуте рассказывается и показывается, как Гуляев выиграл чемпионат Мира)

Я извиняюсь, что видео на голландском.
Первые соревнования на крытом катке прошли не без трудностей. Организаторы продали слишком много билетов, качество льда было не очень хорошее (отчасти потому, что тогда еще можно было курить внутри ледового дворца), и чемпионский титул у голландцев отнял советский спортсмен.
В фильме видно, насколько иначе работала охрана тогда. Фанатам даже разрешали проносить в зал «стройматериалы» для того, чтобы они могли построить себе постаменты и видеть трек даже из дальних рядов.

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The day after..... I had two fantastic day sat Krylatskoe iceskating rink. Not only because my two favorites Ireen Wust and Sven Kramer took the world titles but also as I was able to enjoy the tournament in all its glory. the excitement of following the lap times, and getting really into tracking the favorites and understanding their chances and challenges. Celebrating with the other fans each victory and most importantly experiencing again the real passion of skating fans who do not only cheer for their own favorites.

A good example of this became clear while watching a program in preparation for the championship here in Moscow. A documentary about the very first indoor all round speed skating championship held in Thialf in 1987. The year the very first indoor speed skating rink was built and opened, the famous Thialf.

I apologise as the video is in dutch... But i describes the first championship held at this rink. The first indoor one did not come without its challenges, the organizers sold too many tickets, the quality of the ice was not consistent (partly because the fans were still allowed to smoke inside the arena...) and the dutch favorites were out performed by a soviet skater. The footage shows how security was at a different level in those days, the officials even allowed the fans to bring in building material to build their own temporary stages, just to make sure those in the back rows could also enjoy...

In my mind the most important part of the documentary though shows how the dutch fans support Gulyajev, the all time favorite from Moscow. They shout at the top of their lungs to support him to win the championship and the part that brings people to tears even today is when Gulyajev is being 'crowned' with the world title and 18000 dutch fans mime the Russian national anthem off the top of their lungs.... Skating fans at their best... Gulyajev comments 25 yrs after and admits he can still remember this like it was yesterday, even though he was reprimanded by a communist party official after the tournament for showing too many emotions....

It was what I had on my mind yesterday when we 'crowned' the two new dutch champions and 500 dutch fans joined in singing the national anthem twice in an almost empty Krylatskoe skating palace...

Unfortunately the tournament shows that the popularity of ice skating still leaves a lot to ask for here in Russia. The stadium was only 20% full...Very unfortunately as Russia has had so many strong skaters in the past and still has its own Skobrev who took the world title last year, became 5th this year and still is one of the favorites for gold in Sochi 2014. He is well know but not well know enough...

One thing is for certain though there well be atmosphere in Sochi during the speedskating tournament. The ensemble 'kleintje pils' which also came to Moscow this past weekend, travels with the dutch team wherever they go and creates an unheard of cheery atmosphere in the stadium. Their sound is universally attractive and even the presidential candidate Romney (who was president of the games in Salt Lake city) commented on the fact that the dutch skaters seem to bring their own fan entertainment, and he remembers it clearly10 yrs after..

still two years to go.... time for new talent to develop, current favorites to become stronger and for Russian fans to learn something from the dutch....

Wonderful to see 3 dutch flags and to sing the dutch anthem, together with many dutch skating fans!

Так радостно видеть 3 голландских флага и петь гимн вместе со всеми голландскими фанатами конькобежного спорта!

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Меня пригласили в отель Аквариум на встречу с восемью атлетами сборной Нидерландов по конькобежному спорту, которые приехали на Чемпионат Мира в Москву.

И если вы читали предыдущий пост в моем блоге, то вы знаете, насколько это волнительное событие для такого фаната конькобежного спорта, как я.

Конькобежный спорт – это не только спортсмены, катающиеся по треку. Зрители и фанаты важны не меньше. Для них важно знать все: статистику, мировые рекорды, лучшие личные показатели и еще до старта оценить, какое среднее время прохождения каждого круга нужно для спортсмена, чтобы занять место на подиуме. А это само по себе почти спорт в такой семье, как наша, где у каждого свое мнение о сильных и слабых сторонах каждого участника соревнований.

Дело еще и в том, что это национальный голландский спорт, в котором у нас всегда было преимущество. И всегда стоит вопрос, кто станет следующим чемпионом, хватит ли способностей у каждого нового поколения спортсменов…
Катание на коньках – это очень объединяющее занятие в Нидерландах. Лучше всего, когда вся семья может прокатиться по настоящему люду на открытом воздухе.

В последние недели, когда у нас вроде бы установилась стабильно зимняя погода, впервые за много лет сковало льдом каналы, и все задавались вопросом: сможем ли мы? Получится ли в этом году?
Что получится? Поучаствовать в заезде заездов, в легендарной гонке на коньках Elfstedentocht.
Длина трассы, проходящей по самой северной провинции Фрисланд, 200 км, толщина льда должна быть не менее 15 см. Прокатиться могут лишь 16 тысяч человек, и проводится лотерея, в которой разыгрываются желанные билеты участников.
Последний раз гонка прошла в 1997 году. В этом году мы были так близки, но не повезло! Я видела взрослых мужчин, которые плакали, узнав, что гонка не состоится. Толщина льда была недостаточной…
Посмотрите видео гонки 1941 года. Там нет звука, но изображение говорит само за себя.



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This afternoon I was invited to attend the press event of the dutch team and their 8 contestants in the World championship speed skating in Hotel Aquarium. Rather exciting for someone who as you may have read in the previous blog is speedskating mad.

Speedskating is not just a sport with individuals racing around a track. The fans and spectators are just as important. It's all about keeping up with the statistics, knowing about worldrecords, personal bests and knowing before the athletes even start what their avg time for each round needs to be for a place on the podium. Which is a competitive sport in itself in a family where we all had and have our views about the numbers and the strenghts and weaknesse of each contestent.
It's also about Skating being The national sport in which we the dutch have been and are still dominating.. And always the question who will be the next champion, is there enough talent in the next generation..

But is also about skating en masse when there is finally an opportunity to 'go natural' when their is real ice. In the last few weeks, due to a severe 'winter' which lasted for at least 10 days a fever built up in the Netherlands, with the ultimate question will we be able....? Will we be able what?... To skate and or watch the tours of all tours. The elf cities race, the elfstedentocht. A tour over 200km of natural ice, held in the most northern of provinces, Friesland. Only 16000 can participate, and they all take party in a lottery to get the very much wanted ticket to the start... The last time this took place was 1997 and this year we were very very close, but so far no luck. I saw grown up men crying on TV when they found out it was just not going to happen. The ice just wasn't thick enough.... The link here shows footage from the tour in 1941, there is no sound... but a picture says more than a thousand words..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ivYmNod13o

The elfstedentocht did not happen, but it did not stop hundreds of thousands to put on their skates and try the ice on canals, rivers, lakes etc. The following link shows footage a competition taking place last week in the center of Amsterdam on the main canal, The Keizersgracht... A real unique event and for those of you who have ever been in Amsterdam, close your eyes and try to image all canals frozen and thousands of people skating, playing, drinking and celebrating on the frozen water...

http://schaatsen.nl/videos/play/1318203-keizersrace-groot-succes.

Back to The Aquarium, situated on the outer ring road of Moscow, a rather gloomy un inspirational place, which reminded me most of 'how not to design a soviet hotel 2.0'. The hotel was full of skaters and their support teams and the temperature inside must have been 35 degrees. Maybe someone decided that this is a temperature which leads to new heights and personal bests but as far as I could see only leads to athletes walking around in summer outfits ( very attractive) and rather sweaty looking officials (not so attractive..).

I was lucky enough to spend a long time talking with Gerard Kemkers, the old international, now Coach of the TVM team. I got a speedy course in how the sport is organized these days, how to develop talent and last but not least, where the money comes from. We spent a long time discussing 'the athlete as a brand'. Great stuff especially in light of how we market today in the ever changing social media space, where all what modern brands are debating daily is how to reach and engage in the most effective and relevant way...

Finally we made our way upstairs where the creme de la creme of the dutch sports media and skating correspondent were getting the latest on each athlete in a sort of speed dating format. Speed dating with speedskaters..
I met with Sven Kramer who took the title three times already. He was injured for more than a year, made a very unexpected come back (apparently it is very rare to come back after a serious injury as you almost have to start all over again, ..). He became European champion a couple of weeks ago and was in a very good mood. Is there a relationship between very good mood and great results... I guess champions also learn to act in public...
Also one of the female favorites Ireen Wust dated the press.. I was shocked to realise how petite this girl is. A ball of fire on the ice and in real life a tiny very muscled charming girl, who spoke warmly about her previous tournaments in Russia and in particular a tournament in Chelyabinsk which apparently is the skating loving city of Russia.
Key question of the journalists, 'are you going to win and why'... We will all know the answers this weekend,.. It all kicks of with the 500 meter for men followed by the 500 meter for women on Saturday at 1500 Moscow time.

On my way out of this tropical skating paradise I ran into the Russian favorite, the great Ivan Skobrev..
The day could not get any better...

I will be there this weekend together with hundreds of Dutch and hopefully thousands of Russian fans..

to be continued....
Я до сих пор помню тот первый раз, когда мой отец взял нас с братом на ледовую арену Тиальф http://www.thialf.nl/

Рядом с домом моей бабушки в Херенвене есть каток с искусственным льдом. Как и все голландские дети, я училась кататься на настоящем льду, все-таки раньше зимой он был всегда. Ну, а на этом треке есть возможность кататься круглый год 365/24/7…

Ледовый спорт появился в Нидерландах более трех столетий назад, когда зимы были настоящими, как те, что сейчас здесь в Москве. Для катков в те времена были особые законы. Или отсутствие таковых. Там действовало правило «что происходит в Вегасе, остается в Вегасе». Если посмотреть на картины тех времен, то можно увидеть не только катающихся на коньках и резвящихся людей, но спиртное, и даже казино и бордели. Название государства Нидерланды переводится как «низкие земли», это земли ниже воды, лучшее место для изобретения фигурного катания.



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I can still remember the first time my father took me and my brother to Thialf http://www.thialf.nl/. 



The 'artificial' ice track next to my grandmothers house.. Like all dutch boys and girls, I learned to skate on the real stuff, somehow winters in those days always had 'the real stuff'.. natural 'frozen water' ice.... Thialf, where they (the dutch) managed to 'built' the track on which you could race 365/24/7...

Skating started in the Netherlands more than 3 centuries ago, when winters were still real winters, like the ones we sometimes have in Moscow.  In those days there were even special laws for ice... Or absence of those.  The new land created by frozen water, was a sort of 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' land. If you look at some of the paintings from those days, you can spot people skating, playing, but also lots of drinking and apparently, there were even casinos and bordellos.
The Netherlands, translated as the low lands, ie land under water was the perfect place for skating to be invented.

It's the easy explanation why skating is in our genes... And not the skating on those short, rather bulky looking things, no the real stuff, on beautiful, elegant well designed long irons.  Much harder to learn, but if thought well and you somehow you get the hang of it you go fast and can go on for hours... i dreamed of being very good at skating and when I won second place in a 100m short track race when I was 6, I was convinced I could be a real champion one day.. Unfortunately the race was held in my street, the competition in my age group 4 other kids...

Back to Thialf.  The first time... I was very young but somehow old enough to be taken to a real championship.  It was the year 1977 and the WC was at the last moment moved from Davos to Thialf due to lack of ice in Switzerland, luckily we  had the artificial stuff ready. Thialf was still an outdoor track.  I remember clearly how my father manged to get us very close to the athletes and in my memory I was standing only one meter away from Eric Heiden , the until that day unknown American who totally unexpectedly took the title.  As my grandmother said, 'he probable had dutch ancestors', how else could an american win in 'our' sport'.
But not only Eric, I also stood next to three athletes wearing what I would now consider a real vintage tracksuit, with the letters CCCP on the back.  I think the first Russians I met in my live....

Over to now... On my way to Hotel Aquarium.  two days before the all round world championship speed skating, will be held here in Moscow.  On my way to meet the dutch team.  Not only Sven who won four championships in a row, but also Ireen Wust, the favorite to take at last a couple of podium places.

to be continued.....

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