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Champagne on ice: the mystery and myths behind Dutch skating success

It’s true that the Dutch do have a tradition of skating that, as the sports historian Marnix Koolhaas has written, it can be traced back to the Reformation, that the first skating world championships were held in Amsterdam in 1889, even that their first gold medallist, Carry Geijssen in 1968, said she sometimes skated to work along the frozen canals.

It isn’t so very many, since the swimming federation has 75,000, but those 7,000 are all channelled into speed skating, whereas other countries split their talent between short track, ice hockey and figure skating.


“Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets...” ― Napoléon Bonaparte