Cover story: Jeroen Otter |  Great Heerenveen

Cover story: Jeroen Otter | Great Heerenveen

The map of the world we are looking at is on a laptop. He turned on another laptop; It must be used again during training. The 20 skaters that Jeroen Otter has under his care, fully stocked with equipment, round out the practice sessions. They all do about 150 laps. Digital clips record everything from every roll. Yes, skating, like most sports, is natural, but following it and then drawing conclusions from it is done digitally. Otter has seven or eight employees for training and registration.


This provides the opportunity to offer individual guidance to each skater and skater. Equipment relentlessly notes how the skater feels. “For example, if you’re a sports reporter and you’re not feeling well because Heerenveen lost – again – or something like that, then as chief you can say: It doesn’t matter and you should do this and that, the report will be lower quality. That’s more Pronounced with an athlete. Yes, the feelings and mood of the athlete must be taken into account. Even if this ankle does not sleep well, you need to adjust its training. And vice versa, train more vigorously if the body and mind can tolerate it. But man is not a machine.”

These thoughts didn’t enter his head until around 2010, while Otter had been a short-track coach for a long time anyway. Or is he a coach? “They are two very different things.” The coach takes care of the physical part, and the coach is there for the strategy. You are also limited in that. You can pre-determine the strategy for how you will lead the journey, but if it hasn’t worked out for a while, it needs to be done differently. A lot of otter (as well) relies on the short tracker’s intuition. And they learn that intuition again during training, which is the purpose of notebooks. And twenty men/women are training, because there has to be a constant sparring.


You could also say that a short-track instructor works more intensively with the mind of his pupils than a long-track instructor. He needs less tactical knowledge. On top of that, he can still play outside, and the short track coach can’t do that at all. Although: “It is possible in the relay, because then you can reach those who are satisfied.”

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Riley, with four skaters always relaxing each other, is the magic word for Groen Otter. Also for short trackers, everyone wants to get a spot on the team. Relay is also the story of his life. Jeroen Otter was born 57 years ago in Amstelveen. Ski Gap Edinbahn in Amsterdam. It was always open in mid-October, the fall holiday. Some of the smaller trails in the area have already completed the 200-meter trails in September. with a short path. The otter liked it, he made ice hockey skates from tall boots and short skates from separate blades. It was successful. Otter joined the Dutch team and to their surprise, they live out four times the world gold in the relay. It turns out that this is the Netherlands. Short track speed skating once participated in the Winter Olympics as a test and the Netherlands also won a gold medal there. Two years later, they were disqualified from the World Championships and as a result were not allowed to go to the real Winter Games at that time. That was the end of the otters’ short career.


In 1988 he had already had to give up his studies in economics for those world championships; After disqualification ceased. Otter is still earning a physical education degree. Thus he became a coach and coach for the short track. Globetrotter Jeroen Otter is applying for this position in the American Society. To his surprise, he was accepted. Perhaps this was based on his experience with deportation, because that attracted the Americans. Otters lived in America and Canada; Tell us about it using this laptop. Also all take them to the top of the relay. And while the short trackers have also improved individually, that was his trademark. which he returned to Europe. He has been a coach and coach of the Orange squad since 2012 and has also taken this squad to the top.

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team awareness

He described the Dutch women’s relay performance, taking gold at the Winter Olympics in China in February, as his greatest achievement. “There is nothing more than that.” Otter knows how to draw short trackers and then turn them into great teams. Team awareness. If Schulting falls, the whole team falls. You win and you all lose together. Speak, speak. It almost feels like psychological work over years and years. This culminated in a gold medal run all right with Yara van de Kerkhove, Selma Putsma, Susan Schulting and Zandra Felsbur. A final in which the best four nations participated. “It was a dream that could come true. We fought years ago to get to the finals, and now we definitely have to get a medal. That makes it more difficult to achieve.” A highlight of Otter was his team’s experience with his friend Lara van Roygoven, who died of an immune disease.


Jeroen Otter has seen the whole world and is still an avid backpacker. He was in Australia and Cambodia and drove a Land Rover across the desert. Still want to go along the coast of Chile, to Tierra del Fuego. Or kayaking in Alaska. Life is a little different, although recently he has cycled around Ameland. Otter now lives in Heerenveen, Skoatterwâld. This was a huge change for a man who had always lived in the big cities or towns of Holland. But it was also different in America; He paints a place where he can see a lot of water from his house on one side and the Rocky Mountains on the other. He lived in Calgary for a while. “Although a million people live there, it is really nothing more than a village.” But anyone who skis knows Calgary.

Heerenveen is known. Because Heerenveen has one thing before all those other places he’s lived: Thialf Glacier. Otter is very pleased with it, but does not know the word “satisfied.” He believes that everything in the world can always be faster, harder and therefore more perfect. Then the latter applies to Thialf. “It is the only stadium in the world that is heavily used by recreational skaters.” We walk to the window of his wonderful office in the same area as Thialf overlooking the track. “Look, I put a 500-meter track around that. The recreational rink. Then they can drive next to Sven Kramer, who isn’t bothered by bad ice. Incidentally, Thialf of course was always supposed to have joined the Abe Lenstra. Then it was from It is possible to integrate all those sports in which Heerenveen excels better than he is now.”

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always more…

Jeroen Otter is delighted with CTO Noord, who ensures the athlete has all the facilities he needs. But the otter always wants more… “We really need some elevation chambers here, it’s more oxygen.” This is how Jeroen Otter works. He is, for example, pleased with Thialf’s innovation hub, but thinks that not much has been done about it. This is then a question of money, sometimes some projects have to be stopped very quickly. “Thialf has got to be the best winter sports site in the world, and it just doesn’t exist.” The word creativity is mentioned many times. he is. Not only in the sometimes surprising courses and courses, but also in Thialf. “Why don’t we have a runway sled here? Can you come off the tile roof?”


Coach Jeroen Otter is working hard on the physical placement of his 20 short trackers. Because talent alone is not enough in the best sports. If you look at the exercises and you can look at his laptop, you’ll see what he means by that. Until mid-May. “Then we’ll see, because I also want to do something different.” do not worry about that. Finally, he has a word of appreciation. “You know, here in this safe area of ​​Heerenveen, raising children is the best thing in the world.” This is a lot coming from Jeroen Otter.

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