Daan Breeuwsma: one for all and all for one ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


15 mai 2018

Daan Breeuwsma: one for all and all for one

Daan Breeuwsma has been around for a while now on the short track circuit. His coach Jeroen Otter has nothing but good words to say about him and how important he is to the Dutch relay team. Even though his individual results may have never really shown how great he is as a skater, it doesn’t seem to bother Breeuwsma, because he doesn’t use the word “I” a lot. He takes more pride in saying “WE”.

By Carl Savard
Photos by Schaats Foto's and Daan Breeuwsma's personnal collection

I have to admit Daan Breeuwsma was one of the skater I wished I would be able to chat with in Montreal last March, when the ISU circus was in town for the 2018 Short track world championships. He had always struck me as a laid back guy and an awesome team player with a love for his sport. It didn’t take long for us to gel and talk about sport and life and my assumptions were right. “When I don’t skate, I work on a farm so I’m always busy. When I’m travelling for World cup events or championships, then I have a week where I don’t do a lot compared to my everyday life. I don’t really have a pastime like reading. So I have time for interviews.” For an interviewer, that kind of introduction definitely tells you, this should be an easy and pleasant exchange. Breeuwsma’s easy going manners and down to earth attitude  may come from the fact that he grew up on a farm surrounded by two brothers and one sister with very different interests. “My oldest brother is into politics and doesn’t like sports, my other brother is a farmer and my sister is in music. She is a singer-songwriter. My parents were not really into sports. My mom was active, playing tennis for example, but no one else was into competitive sports. I’m the lone competitive athlete in the family. ” It’s around 9 years old that young Daan tried speed skating for the first time, during a school activity at the rink. He liked it and decided to continue. Trained at the time by Kostya Poltavets, the Ukrainian coach spotted pretty fast that short track could be a better fit for Breeuwsma. “He told me I should go to short track because my corners were really good for a young guy, so I went to the short track club and never went back to long track except a few times for training.”

For quite a while, the Netherlands has been known as a fertile garden growing amazing long track speed skaters. However, the rise of the Dutch athletes in short track started just a little over a decade ago in 2006 with the creation of the national training center in Heerenveen. “Sjinkie and I were not in that first group. We did the blocks together at a World cup event that season and the following year I skated at the World championships with Niels Kerstholt and that’s when I realised I really wanted to go for it. Sjinkie and I are the only two left from the first few years of the national training center. Since then, we’ve been European champions many times and world champions twice on the relay.” One of these world titles happened in Montreal in 2014. Entering the last corner of the race, the Dutch team was in fourth place but Sjinkie Knegt’s perfect inside finish got them the title. Canada was not in the final that year and I confessed to Breeuwsma that it was the most exciting relay event I had witnessed live as a spectator and that during that event, I bleeded orange.

Now 30 years old, Breeuwsma isn’t certain that he will be there for another full olympic cycle, but for now he sure is as passionate about his sport than he was when he started. “It will depend of how the team is developing and if I personally still progress. If I can keep skating better every year and I still like it then maybe I can go for another four years. I really want that olympic title. We had a good shot at it but didn’t execute well this time around but I think we are a good team. I will evaluate one season at a time from now on and see how it goes. It’s hard to predict what will happen in the next four years, but right now I’m still one of the best skaters in my country. I’m taking a longer break this summer to get a knee surgery and recover but I’ll be back.”

At the time of publishing this article, Breeuwsma already had his surgery and everything went well. He had the same surgery two years ago to the other knee and felt amazing afterward which is a good news for him entering next season as one of the veteran on the world circuit. He may not be back on the ice yet, but he is back behind the wheel of his tractor, enjoying life on the farm with his loved one Rianne de Vries, also a member of the Dutch team in short track. Loving the sport so much, Breeuwsma sees himself linked to speed skating one way or another once he retires. “I don’t exactly know what I want to do after my skating career, but with short track growing so much now in the Netherlands I’d like to do something for the sport, maybe assistant coach, technical trainer or something like that. But I’m not ready to stop yet. I feel like I’m still an important part of this team.” Following that line, all I could do was nod in agreement.

For Daan Breeuwsma, it will always be one for all and all for one.

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