When the Steven Bradburys came to town

Dordrecht is a little town with a big history. It’s the oldest city in Holland, being granted city rights all the way back in 1220. It’s also the site of the Union of Dordrecht, when in 1572 twelve Dutch cities joined forces to resist Spanish rule under the command of William of Orange.

And, in 2012, 120,000-strong Dordrecht joined the likes of Shanghai, Calgary and Moscow as a venue for the Short Track World Cup.

P2120183 1024x768 When the Steven Bradburys came to town

The venue for the World Cup – Sportboulevard, Dordrecht.

Not that you would know it; no posters decorated the town, and the nightly news was too obsessed with the long-track World Cup over in Norway. Yes, the Dutchies prefer the long-track, because they’re good at it.

The short-track, though, is much more exciting. It’s the type you’ve probably seen on telly, and yes it’s the version briefly famous in Australia after Steven Bradbury dramatically won the country’s first gold ever at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Paul and I went to the long-track last year and there wasn’t a single Aussie in the line-up. This time, their website featured a whole team of Aussies. Finally, I thought, my Aussie flag can finally be brought out of the drawers.

Unfortunately, the Aussies didn’t turn up. They all went home after Calgary, I figured as they weren’t doing so hot (not enough competitors were falling over I suppose) and the Australian Institute of Sport couldn’t justify the costs. So I had to cheer for the Dutchies.

P2110138 1024x768 When the Steven Bradburys came to town

Great seats on Day 1, right in front of the start/finish line.

Last year at the long-track, the Dutchies won just about everything. That’s why the sport’s popular here. Not so much the short-track. It’s dominated by Koreans and Canadians, and even two Indians made the journey to Dordrecht, I cared to note. Take that, AIS.

If the long-track is test cricket, short-track is Twenty20. It’s fast, brash, and has lots of collisions, just like runs, sixes and wickets. Competitors choose the intro music, and the lighting effects entertain the crowd. It was so much fun that Paul and I came back the next day for more.

The crowd was desperate for Dutch success. They thought they’d get it in the men’s 1000m, with the final made up of three Dutchies and one sole Canadian. And they thought they’d done it when Sjinkie Knecht threw his arms up in the air when he crossed the line. Only problem was, the Canadian stretched his foot out at the last minute, crossing microseconds before Sjinkie. Dordrecht had gotten its headline, but for all the wrong reasons.

P2110166 1024x768 When the Steven Bradburys came to town

You idiot.

So everyone was holding their breath for the relays. The Dutch hadn’t gotten a single gold for the entire season, and had one last chance. After the women failed, the Dutch men lined up against the Koreans (Olympic champions), Canadians (world champions) and Russians (all-round bad guys). The Dutchies had to channel Steven Bradbury to even have a chance.

It all looked doomed from the start, with the Dutchies trailing behind the formidable trio. Before long though, the Russians fell. One down.

A cat-and-mouse game ensued with the Canadians. The Dutchies caught them, and lost them again. And caught them. And pulled ahead, pushed on by the crowd absolutely going bonkers. They had the Koreans within sight, but that was all. The gap was narrowed, but still a gap. Three laps to go. Two. Then the last lap. The last corner… and it was too much for the Koreans. Perhaps derailed by their own enthusiasm, they spun out and fell taking that last corner, with the Dutchies remaining on their feet and taking gold.

P2120206 1024x768 When the Steven Bradburys came to town

And the crowd goes wild!

And so the spirit of Steven Bradbury lives on. In the form of four men in orange lycra, in a little town with a big history.

5 Responses to When the Steven Bradburys came to town

  1. Brock - Backpack With Brock February 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM #

    Sounds like an exciting visit to a historic place!

  2. Hank February 23, 2012 at 12:06 PM #

    Nice story. Needs one correction and a remark. First, the Russians were not European Champions on the relay. The Dutch were, both man and women. Then however polular longtrack is, there are huge worries about the future of international (allround) longtrack speedskating. The anchorman of Dutch sports tv declared the Worldchampioenships in Moskou to be the funeral of this sport. I agree that shorttrack is way more fun to watch. North American and Asian sportsaudience know. The common Dutch audience is about go. PS I was in Dordrecht too. Pics on my Flickr stream and a video impression on YouTube (both user NLHank).

    • Caitlyn February 23, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

      Thanks Hank! I have adjusted the blog to correct this mistake. I share your preference of the short-track, it was much more of a competition than the long-track which seems awfully monotonous. As an Australian, I’d never even heard of long-track before I lived in the Netherlands!

  3. Edwin February 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM #

    “Paul and I went to the long-track last year and there wasn’t a single Aussie in the line-up.”

    Which competition you went? There are always Aussies at long-track…

    • Caitlyn February 24, 2012 at 12:04 PM #

      Nope, unfortunately not. It was the final day of the World Cup in Heerenveen last year – all the Aussies were gone in the heats the previous mornings.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Web Analytics