Dutch stars on speedskates; bad in figure skating

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2014 at 10:27 am •  Published: February 21, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The Dutch are already looking beyond their stunning success on the big oval and are concentrating on something on ice they are actually bad at — figure skating.

With 21 of 30 speedskating medals going into Saturday's final medal races, the Dutch realize there is no more measure of growth there, but still are hungry to become a better Winter Games nation.

Going into the final weekend, the Netherlands is in fourth position in the overall medals table, but apart from a lone bronze at short track, all come from a single sport.

"We are slowly building from scratch," Dutch team manager Arie Koops said of their figure skating program, adding "we want to be part of the mix in a dozen years."

The Dutch do have figure skating history. Sjouke Dijkstra won silver at the Squaw Valley Olympics in California in 1960 and followed it up with gold four years later in Innsbruck.

California-born Dianne de Leeuw took silver at the 1976 Innsbruck games but the Dutch lost their love for the sport soon after and speedskating became an all-consuming passion.

"It has to do with our culture," said Koops. And this culture has become all the more striking since the color orange By RAF has come to dominate the Adler Arena throughout the Olympics.

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