Leiden master’s student wins two skating marathons in three days
In the weekend of 24 February, master’s student and skater Lisa van der Geest won two skating marathons in Luleå, Sweden: the 100 km and the 42 km in the KPN Grand Prix on natural ice. Lisa has already won many times this year.
It was bitterly cold in the far north around 24 February: the skating took place in temperatures of -18o and -20o. Because of the extreme conditions, the intermediate distance of 80 km in the KPN Grand Prix was actually reduced to 60 km. On the way home, a snowstorm meant that the Dutch skating team were stranded for some time at Stockholm Airport, says Lisa.
Similar to cycling
Lisa says that marathon skating can be compared to cycling. ‘You’re part of a team, but you skate for the individual win. So this leads to all kinds of little games. Is someone really having a bad day, or is she just pretending and will suddenly speed away?’ In cycling these days, the roles within a team are usually quite fixed, but this is less likely to be the case in skating. In Lisa’s team they only look to see who can win during the race itself: ‘It hasn’t been established in advance who the lead skater will be; that only becomes clear during the course of the race.’
Long-track skater too
Lisa is not only a marathon skater but also a long-track skater, although most of her successes are in the marathon: her victories in Sweden were the eighth and ninth this year. She has won several KPN races and also the Flevonice in Biddinghuizen. In long-track skating, Lisa specialises in the 3 km and 5 km. Unfortunately she didn’t manage to qualify for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang; there will be a chance to earn tickets again at the end of 2018, between Christmas and New Year, this time for the World Championships.
Lives in Heerenveen
‘I come from a sporting family. Our parents gave us all – two girls and two boys – a broad sports upbringing. I played football, swam and skated, but skating soon became my favourite.’ For two years of her bachelor’s programme, Lisa even lived in Heerenveen, the location of Thialf, the national ice arena. ‘Everything revolves around skating there.’ In the end, it took her four-and-a-half years to complete her bachelor’s programme. ‘I missed all the tutorials, which made things difficult. But back then they were only compulsory in the first year, I think. When you live so far away, you have to put a lot more effort into getting answers to your questions. My classmates helped me a lot. The important point was that I should pass my exams, and I managed to do that.’
Lisa is now back in Leiden and lives with her boyfriend. At the beginning of 2017 she started the master’s programme in Labour Law. ‘I’m now focusing hard on my studies as well, although it will also take me longer to finish my master’s programme. But I’m making good progress, you know. I’m now starting my thesis.’ What will happen in the future, after she graduates, Lisa doesn’t know yet. The women’s marathon team is sponsored by Mkbasics.nl, a large OHS service, and Lisa has an individual sponsor for the long-track skating: the online drugstore Koopjesdrogisterij.nl. ‘But it’s not a fortune, not enough to live on.’ However, her enthusiasm is still as strong as ever, so she keeps on training, several times a week, including once in Heerenveen. She drives there and back in one day, 280 kilometres in total, with another skater ‘who also happens to be my sister-in-law’.
End of season
As if she hadn’t just skated two hundred kilometres in Sweden, this week Lisa will be skating in races on natural ice in the Netherlands as well: in Haaksbergen and Arnhem. And there’s another long-track race in her schedule on Saturday: the finale of the KPN Cup, the very last race of this season. ‘I’ll have to dig very deep this week, but I want to make the most of every opportunity. After that, I’m going to do nothing at all for three weeks, and then I’ll start on my studies again. In terms of skating, it’s a good idea to make it through the summer in good shape. The season starts again in October.’
(CH / Finish photo at top of page: Vincent Riemersma)
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