Belgian short track speed skaters are no longer dependent on the Netherlands. After the forced exit from Heerenveen, the Flemish Skating Union has already prepared a new plan for the likes of Hanne and Stijn Desmet. “We’re running a trial year in the US and Canada,” explains Annelies Dom, director of top sports.
Hanne and Stijn Desmet fell victim to their own success earlier this year.
After years of collaboration with the Netherlands team, the Belgian short track duo suddenly no longer want to train in Heerenveen. The search for a complete replacement did not seem like an easy task, but the Belgians did not sit there for long.
In search of safe conditions and good sparring partners, the Flemish Skating Union ended up with the United States and Canada.
Either way, this will be a test year for our athletes to find out where they feel at home.
“It will be a test year anyway to find out how our athletes feel at home,” said Annelise Dom, the Flemish Skating Union’s top sports director.
“That’s how we ended up in Salt Lake City, where we’ll start from June to July. If everything goes well, we’ll have a place – where we can build a long-term relationship with the Americans.”
“We will do the same training with Canada from August. That period will last until the second World Cup. Not coincidentally. The first two World Cups are in Montreal, Canada.”
“After that, we can analyze what is the best way to discuss further deals.”
So the Belgian short trackers were not dependent on the Netherlands, where a one-year deal was still on the table.
“We still have meaningful partnerships with the Netherlands, but structurally no more,” explains Dom.
Who is this good news for?
“We have three groups for which we need to find accommodation: firstly Hane and Stijn Desmet, but also the mixed relay and the men’s relay – everywhere a good evolution is observed.”
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