|Posted by speedskating-online on March 13, 2008 at 2:55 PM|
Written by Naomi
Dutch speed skating fan
After a week of well-deserved rest and recovery time much needed after the World Cup Final in Heerenveen, it was time for the last competition of the season. And what a competition it was. Four days of speed skating!
The WSDC took place in Nagano, Japan, making it a bit more difficult for me to fly over there and attend it myself. After all, there is more in life than speed skating. But since these were the last races of the season, I didn?t want to miss anything. And luckily I didn?t have to. Thanks to the great people of the NOS (Dutch television), I was able to see everything, from start to finish and beyond. And? live!
It did mean I had to get up in the middle of the night to watch the skating, but I actually enjoyed it a lot. It?s rather special to go to bed early; setting the alarm clock, knowing you will get up the other day at an insane hour and not even mind. And that?s exactly what happened. Those four days my alarm went of at 5.45 am or even 3.15 am. All those times I didn?t have any trouble getting out of bed, and just when I switched my television on, the tune of Studio Sport woke me up.
I installed myself with a cup of tea on the couch, curled up in a blanket and had my laptop within reach. Because it?s not only watching the skating, but also during the cleaning of the ice, talking about it on a skating forum. And when you think I am the only one in Holland who does this, you are more than wrong. Actually, it was quite busy on the internet and it?s nice to know you are not alone.
Day 1 and 2 were interesting, but missed that little extra for me. My favourites would only race in the weekend. But nevertheless I watched it all. And then at 9 or 6 o?clock, when the skating was over, I returned to normal everyday life.
On Saturday the 1000m for men was on the program and I had been looking forward to this the entire week. This was it. The Dutch guys didn?t really make a good impression and I was quite disappointed that the ice wasn?t as good as we all had hoped for. The old track records were not smashed like expected, but just improved with a small difference. I watched the last pair of the 1000m biting my fingernails. Unfortunately, my personal favourite, Denny Morrison, didn?t do as well as I had hoped for, and he finished third. I was happy that he made the podium, but he had been either second or first the entire season, so being third was a bit of a disappointment.
I didn?t have much time to sob over it, because I had to go to my new home to do some work there and my helpers were waiting for me. The entire Saturday I didn?t think about speed skating. The only thing on my mind was painting, putting up wallpaper and more stuff like that. Luckily everything went so smooth and quickly, we were finished by the end of the day. I returned home, more than exhausted.
I went to bed that night, contemplating to miss out on the first distance the next day and just sleep a little bit longer. But sometime during the night I decided to wake up early and just watch it all. It was the last day of competition of the season; I would be able to recover from it for the next six months. So, at 5.45 am on a nice Sunday morning I tuned in.
First the 1000m ladies, which was won by top favourite Anni Friesinger. I think this wasn?t a surprise for no-one and I more or less expected Shani Davis to do the same in the 1500m. He had been the best in many 1500m?s this season and he always seemed to be able to win, whomever he had to beat. In the ninth pair my favourite had to skate against Dutchman Sven Kramer. He is absolutely the undisputed champion in the longer distances, and he can also skate a very good 1500m. But I just don?t want him to win the 1500m. If he would do so, he would get even more media attention and in my opinion get even more arrogant. So, him being paired with Denny Morrison made me wish even harder for Morrison to at least beat Sven Kramer.
During the race, I was at the edge of my couch, biting in my sweater to prevent myself from screaming and waking up the rest of the house. I saw Morrison get in the slipstream of Kramer twice at the cross-over. It just looked really well and I couldn?t believe they skated such a good time. But my main focus was on the fact that whatever would happen, Sven wouldn?t be the champion. I was so relieved!! And of course very happy with the time set by Morrison.
But after their pair, Shani Davis had to race. The opener was more or less the same as Morrison?s, but Davis? first lap was 2 tenth of a second faster. I shook my head and knew Davis would beat Morrison?. Again! But something strange happened and for some weird reason, when Davis crossed the finish line, his time was slower than the 1.45.22 skated by Denny Morrison.
By this time, my heart was racing. All possible traces of fatigue were vanished. I was wide awake and adrenaline was pumping through my body. All kinds of thoughts were tumbling through my mind. But before I had a chance to gather them, the last pair was racing. Halfway through the race, I already saw it wasn?t going to be enough to beat the 1.45.22 and that?s when the rest of the house woke up from me screaming of joy and cheering for what was going on in Japan.
I sat in front of my television and watched how Denny Morrison became World Champion in the 1500m. It took me three seconds and then it hit me: I had to get to work. In December I started the website www.denny-morrison.com and of course I had to update it as soon as possible. This took me almost the entire day, because videos and pictures were pouring in. With one eye on the television and the other one on my computer, the rest of the competition passed by.
The men?s Team Pursuit was quite interesting to watch and after a lot of interviews and skating discussion, the sports program was finished and I switched off my television. The screen went black and my room turned silent. I took a look around, and saw all the signs I made over the last season. I saw a framed picture of one of the skaters and memories of the past season flashed through my mind. I have made so many great friends this season who also love speed skating. My whole life has emerged to a higher level and I must say, this has been one of the best winters ever. Usually, I just hope for winter to pass by as quickly as possible, so summer can arrive. But this winter, I have actually enjoyed winter itself.
But now it is over. The speed skating season 2007-2008 is finished. No more skating until October. I swallowed and felt empty.
Of course, I have plenty of other things to do and summer is also more than nice, but the first couple of weeks, when summer is not there yet, there is an empty void left. In winter, my days are filled with skating and planning skating trips or recovering and reliving competitions. And I think it just has to sink in that it is over.
But, of course, I wouldn?t be me if I wasn?t already thinking about next season and the plans we have for another fascinating winter. But for now, this is it. I hope you all enjoyed my little writing. I did. Have a nice summer and perhaps see you again next season.