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World Cup in Baselga di Pin?, Italy

Posted by speedskating-online on February 8, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Written by Naomi

Dutch speed skating fan



When your two passions are speed skating and traveling, it?s not hard to imagine I?m in favour of many World Cups abroad.


Some people think all World Cup competitions should be skated in Heerenveen, because that seems to be the only ice rink that can hold a crowd of 11,000 at just a World Cup. I, on the other hand, think there?s something romantic about traveling far to see speed skating. In a slightly different setting than usual, but not per se better or worse.


Last Thursday, Caat and I set off to Italy for some serious speed skating, but also for a taste of la dolce vita in Trento and surroundings. Because our trip lasted five whole days, I will not bore you with all the stuff we did or didn?t do. I will just highlight some surprising different things in comparison to the competitions I saw in Heerenveen.


For example: Ice rink Pine is an outdoor track and this means the weather can play a significant role in the outcome of the competition. I think enough has been said already about this, but I would like to point out some surprising bad points due to the weather. Did you know that after standing in the snow for several hours, you are not able to take a picture anymore without having trembling hands?? And did you know that when the sun is shining, there?s such a strong reflection on the ice, it?s impossible to take good pictures and we even managed to get a sunburn?



Another thing that took us by surprise was the fact that we actually stood at the ice rink. Of course, talking about it on the airplane and during the car ride to Baselga, we knew you could stand at the boarding without any hassle like in Heerenveen, but we didn?t actually understand what this implied. It implies you can almost hand over the skate protectors to the skaters when they are leaving the ice. It also implies you can literally hear every word that is being uttered on the ice rink. We were surprised about the way some coaches and trainers talked to their skaters and how much fun the skaters had with each other. It?s just one big happy clan with some soap potential I think. But being able to hear everything, doesn?t automatically imply you can understand everything that is spoken out loud.


Some quotes:

  • Attack the corner
  • Go do your job!!
  • Hips, Hips, Hips, Hips, Hips
  • Skate, skate? come on skate

And some other technical phrases uttered by the coaches and fellow teammates. Maybe I?m just not enough into speed skating to understand all these encouragements, but some phrases just sounded very weird in my ears.


The fact that there were close to no fans at the ice rink and that you could almost hear every single whisper all the way down in the town of Baselga, was also a new experience for me. I am used to shouting my lungs out, clapping, banging on the boarding and just cheering for my favourite speed skaters in every possible way as long as it?s a loud way. But because I didn?t want the people all the way down in Rome to hear me, I had to bite off my tongue a few times in order to keep silent.



Although we had some bad weather while we were there, I also see several advantages of an outdoor ice rink. For instance, 9 out of 10 pictures I?ve taken were not blurry; I almost didn?t use my zoom, which gave me the opportunity to make better and faster pictures and the biggest plus of all things: we were able to stand wherever we wanted. We stood at the start of the 5k for men, at the end of the corner in the 1500m and at the podium for the price winning ceremony for the Team Pursuit. We also had an unspoiled view over the complete ice rink, we didn?t have to wait in line for several hours and we really got an idea of what it is like to be a professional speed skater. And for someone like me, who always wants to get the inside story, it was a really nice and fun experience.


And this upcoming weekend is even better for the inside story. This weekend the World All-round Championships will take place in Berlin. And with an all-round competition, it?s always nice to get the inside story. With all the points and who has to skate which time in order to end up on the overall podium and other stuff like that. But unfortunately I?m not able to watch any of it on television this weekend. I will just have to make do with ?what you see is what you get?. And in this case, it?s not a bad thing. I have managed to get a last minute opportunity to go to Berlin and be present at the World All-round Championships. It?s probably not a surprise that it didn?t take me long to decide!!

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