Published: March 21st 2006March 18th 2006
Before I came to Calgary, the only reason why I new this city was because of the Olympics. And now I am here, living in a building which was build for the athletes, next to the Olympic Oval, which has the second fastest ice in the world.
I must admit that, although I'm Dutch, I'm not that well informed about all the speed skating matches. Imagine my surprise, when I heard the All-round World Championship would be organized in the Olympic Oval, which means almost in my backyard!
So of course me and some other internationals bought tickets for the championship. I did expect some other Dutch people to be there too, of course, but what I saw when I entered the Oval was more impressive than I could ever have imagined. So much orange! I heard more Dutch than you normally hear in the center of Rotterdam (this is an insider's joke, only Ducth people will get this one ;)). Wow.. I'm sure there were even a lot more Dutch people than Canadians! It made me realize that we Dutchmen are a really strange nation. Most of the time we are really down-to-earth and not that nationalistic. But
sometimes we need to get crazy I guess. If we watch sports we are good at, we suddenly dress up in the funiest orange outfits and go completely nuts. No crowd is as funny as a Dutch one.
I guess in a way I'm just the same. I haven't felt that Dutch the time I was here. and actually I even prided myself on the fact that we Dutch people are so international we speak many languages, our movies get subtitled and not dubbed, etc), although actually a major reason for that is just that we are such a small country that needs to adjust to other countries, and it doesn't really enforces the typical Dutch cultural. But Saturday.. I felt really really Dutch and was actually proud to be of our small but great country. I dressed up in orange, sang along loud with our anthem, yelled for our skaters and was really excited about everything..
Yep, it was fun. It was great to be there with a bunch of people from all around Europe, it was great to have such a championship that close to home, and it was great to be at a speed skating
match just in general, the atmosphere was amazing. That's another thing that surprised me, the fans are so sportive. They’re not like soccer fans, who call names at that competitor, now, skating fans cheer for every good skater. If Claudia Pechstein skates a great race, Dutch fans applaud for her enthusiastically. Can you imagine Dutch soccer fans cheering for a German player who just scored a great goal...?
After the speed skating we went to the Mynt, a really nice club, different from the clubs I've seen till now in Calgary. It looks pretty high-class. They also have a ice bar on the top floor, but unfortunately this one was closed this evening. But of course that did not stop us from having a great time.. :)
There are more photos below