|Posted by speedskating-online on February 28, 2008 at 9:54 AM|
Written by Naomi
Dutch speed skating fan
Three days of speed skating have passed by in the blink of an eye. Actually, the whole season has passed by incredibly fast. I left for Heerenveen feeling a little melancholic, knowing it would be the last live event I was going to see and I knew that after it, it would be over. I will now have to do without the clapping of the klapschaats, the chirping of brakes on ice for such a long time. The scent in the air when you enter the Thialf and the excitement of a nice pair, duking it out in the last meters of my favourite distance.
But I also was excited to go, because this time things would be a bit different. We had good company. Kirsti, a new Norwegian friend who loves speed skating just as much as we do, would also come to Heerenveen. I had helped her to find a place to sleep and gave her a ride to Heerenveen and before we knew it, we stood outside the Thialf, in the pouring rain, chatting like we had known each other for years. I guess the love for speed skating bonds more than anything! It also was very helpful for our Norwegian lessons and we had the best of fun trying to pronounce some phrases in Norwegian. Of course, you had to be there to appreciate it, so I will not bore you with any of our hilarious phrases and hours and hours of laughter after it.
Once we were inside and secured our spot, the real job started. Normally we are trying to behave as normal as possible and don?t shout hysterically to the skaters on the ice, but since this was the last time we were there, we unanimously decided to do things differently this time. So whenever a skater passed, we shouted his name in a weird voice and that was rewarded with some pretty nice responses: 9 out of 10 skaters actually waved back at us! And it almost was as if they had a little competition of their own amongst each other to wave as originally as possible. Standing on one leg, pointing a finger at us or making fists of pure joy. It all was hilarious!
I actually think the best moment of the weekend was when Enrico Fabris managed to skate to a bronze medal in the 1500m and thereby proved to be back in shape. We were surprised and happy and so was Fabris himself. Of course Caat brought her huge ?Forza Enrico? banner with her, and Mr. Fabris seemed to appreciate that a lot and celebrated his third place with us. Thanks to the enormous banner!!
This time we had booked a hotel near the Thialf and this saved us a 1.5 hour trip back home and gave us the opportunity to kick back and relax in our fancy hotel rather than driving back through the most boring part of Holland. On Saturday we could even sleep in a little bit and enjoy our luxurious breakfast with the best view ever! But of course we couldn?t enjoy the view for too long, because we had to arrive at the stadium in time again. On Saturday I had a little bit of an off-day, for various reasons, but fortunately the wave during the 5k for men kept me awake! It was a really nice view to see 11,000 people perform a wave at the exact same moment the skaters passed by and this lap after lap after lap! Even the VIP people participated a little bit.
Saturday passed into Sunday and before we knew it, we were being kicked out of the stadium because the security people wanted us to leave. We had just witnessed an amazing victory ceremony with all the World Cup winners passing by on motorcycles and in cabriolets. It was really nice to hear all the noise and see the huge smiles of all the winners when passing us by. And then it was over. Outside it was dark, silent and cold. I was tired and happy to go to the hotel, but also sad to leave the stadium. On the way to the hotel, we all were silent and a little depressed, exhausted and each lost in our own thoughts. We had a nice dinner with a lot of drinks to commemorate the end of the our season.
In the morning the hotel was almost empty and while packing my bag and gathering my stuff, I felt happy I was going home. The season has been so intense and has taken up so much of my time, I was almost relieved it was over and I was looking forward to the summer. Of course, once I got home and watched all my photos and uploaded all my videos, the feeling of relief passed instantly and I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming WSDC in Nagano. It will be four days of watching speed skating on TV. That will be nice for a change! One more competition to go. It?s the icing on the cake. One more weekend? looking forward to it, of course ;-).
Photo 1: Kristi Biseth
Photo 2: Linda v/d Salm