Curling is not the most popular winter sport in the Netherlands, to say the least. However, curling men are hoping for a real witch cauldron in December at OKT in Leeuwarden. “We don’t want to be the last of the Dutch footballers.”
“Well, games are of course the ultimate goal for which you do everything” skips (Captain) Jaap van Dorp. Waddinxveen’s experienced curler knows all too well that a Dutch team has never been to the Olympics. “Sports are of course not popular in the Netherlands, but placement of games can help a lot with publicity.”
The tournament in Leeuwarden, which is already a first for the Netherlands, is an excellent opportunity to get people more excited about curling. “No new generation has emerged yet,” says Van Dorp, who has represented Lorenz Hoekmann, Water Gosgens and Carlo Glasbergen, representing the Netherlands at the World Cup and European Championships for several years. We don’t feel any pressure to promote the sport more, you just have to draw attention to the sport through performance. But we also don’t want to be the first and the last Dutch players to qualify for the Games.”
In Canada, when we stand in a store, everyone gets autographs from these guys.
The Netherlands has never hosted an international curling tournament of this magnitude before. “Often our ‘audience’ is 30-40 Dutch supporters, so yes, the witch’s cauldron would be great,” Hoekman says. This will be our first real experience with the Dutch fans. I think it can only be positive. Cheerleading is never wrong and it doesn’t distract us.”
But the potential fame is not known to the gentlemen. “They are very popular abroad,” says national team coach Shari Lebrandt Damon. When we stand in a store in Canada, everyone gets autographs from these guys. At the major tournaments in Las Vegas or Canada, there are sometimes 15,000 people, so they will not be distracted by the audience. ”
50 watt radiant heaters
The whole hall at Leeuwarden also means that the maidens have to discipline themselves on the ice differently. Each booster, Gosgens explains, is a 50-watt radiant heater that provides additional moisture. To be prepared for anything.”
There is also a little home advantage in this area. “The WCF (World Curling Federation, editor) has a team of experts who spend a week working day and night on the ice, and no one in the Netherlands can replicate that,” says sports marketer Dagmar van Stiphout. Glasbergen adds that in the Netherlands, this expertise is still hard to find. “You have to imagine that Thialf, who has been around for a long time, only said at the last European Championship: ‘The ice cream now is the best in the end. “It’s a profession in itself, and that curling area doesn’t even exist yet.”
Dutch curlers leave first for the European Championships in Norway, where they can qualify for the World Cup. They then fly almost immediately to Leeuwarden for the all-important OCT between December 4-19 at Elfstedenhal, where the seven participating nations are vying for three Olympic tickets.
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