Dutch double: Ter Mors combines long, short track
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The Dutch pride themselves on a trait they call “nuchterheid,” a sort of down-to-earth pragmatism that defies easy translation. Jorien ter Mors embodies it.
Ter Mors was typically reserved Sunday after following up three 1,500-meter short track races and a heartbreaking fourth-place finish a day earlier with an Olympic record performance over the same distance at the long track that gave her the unlikeliest of gold medals.
“I would not call it incredible,” she said.
“Yesterday, I had a feeling I lost everything for which I had worked for four years,” said Ter Mors, who doesn’t hide her preference for short track in a nation where long track speedskating is far more popular.
“But I decided not to keep sulking, that is not why I have worked this hard. I had a good night’s sleep and this morning I felt totally fresh again.”
She skated in the first half of races before ice resurfacing, a position that rarely yields a gold medal winner. Ter Mors bucked the trend and upset defending champion Ireen Wust in another Dutch sweep of the medal podium.
Now she is targeting a medal in Friday’s short track 1,000 final and could pick up another long track gold a day later in the team pursuit.
Being down to earth, however, does not exclude emotions.
Tears streaked her face when she realized gold was hers — thoughts drifting back to her dad, Henk, who introduced her to skating when she was 11 and died after a long illness last year. It threw off her summer training, but she dealt with the hardship in a way that has marked her career — after a setback, you get back to work.
For Ter Mors that means training for two radically different racing styles — short track, where skaters hug the ice on tight curbs, and the long and powerful strides of long track.
“I really have to work hard for this this,” Ter Mors said. “All those hours of toil on that little track, on the long track, and the biking on top. They don’t offer it on a platter.”
Winning a short track medal would make her the first athlete at the Olympics to medal in both sports.
Finally, in a rare admission that she really is special, she acknowledged that, “in the end, it is not that common in the world that someone switches track and gets gold.”
Her outspokenness about her preference for short track in a long-track country was another example of her straightforward approach to life. When asked if she would not prefer to switch to a commercial long track team, where the financial rewards are greater, her answer was simple: “No I am a short tracker.”
And asked which she would choose between a short track bronze or a long track gold, she was equally clear: “Both!”
Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert