This Facebook marks the opening of a special initiative in the skating world. The KIA Speed Skating Academy in Inzell will open at a crucial moment in skating history. Will we succeed to modernize the sport and expand it with more countries? Or will the competition be limited to a handful of dominant countries which grab and share the titles and Olympic medals? In recent months, I have been complimented that I am realizing my dream. But that is not true. Pure dissatisfaction about how the skating world looks like nowadays, that is my main motivation! I miss a clear perspective. Much has been said about this by people who should matter, but I do not want to be the one who "just" calls for action, I want to do something, now!
Therefore I started, firstly for the love of skating, the other out of pure stubbornness, this massive project. Once, in my naivety, I really thought, that I could help skaters by giving them money from our loyal sponsors. But just because of money alone, you can not help a sport to become bigger. You need good structures, good trainers, rest in the mind and full concentration on further developments. Thanks to Kia Motors Netherlands, which has been our loyal sponsor partner since the very first day, I dared to make this step. When after that G4S and also Clafis Engineering believed in this plan, I immediately started this project. My vision for this KIA Speed Skating Academy is simple. Firstly, good and healthy eating. We will take care of that! Secondly, skaters must be able to sleep and rest well. The first and second floor, called "Auping Silence Areas", offer this all. And finally, the equipment. Skates, roller blades, bicycles, etc., should be in perfect condition. Only then skaters can properly train. It is therefore incredibly logical that it will result in better performance and new personal records. Combined with a fabulous new ice rink, which has a great history of skating, Inzell is the perfect place for our project!
Skating icon Jeremy Wotherspoon, still proud holder of the world record in the 500 meters (34.03), will be our sprint coach and this will ensure new motivation for skating talents from countries that do not have knowledge and top coaches. And for the allround skaters, we will present an attractive coach as well. The minimum standards I have outlined above are currently only available for a handful of countries. Too often I have met skaters who did not know whether their hotel was paid and whether they had enough money for a decent meal. Not even mentioning the great lack of real, up-to-date knowledge. It is my great desire to create such perfect conditions, so these skaters can perform better.
I want to take you as a reader back a little to the early years of Sport Navigator.NL. When I was negotiating the contract between DSB Bank and Jan Bos, I finally saw what it was the sponsors really about: visibility of company logos. Exposure they called it, of which I had never really heard before. I really thought it was about helping the skaters. And at that moment I saw it! I saw all those foreign skaters skating without wearing sponsor logos during their races, I saw a great opportunity to help the owners of these skate suits. Since I still had no sponsor, just the idea, I called that project Tjans.com, phonetic for the English word chance. As an opportunity for sponsors to generate exposure in a wonderful sport that is recognized as sympathetic everywhere.
At that time I met people who believed in my plan, like the management of KIA, sponsor from the very first minute, and Yacht, where the current KNSB director Victor van den Hoff (National Dutch Skating Federation, red.) embraced this sponsor proposal. They immediately understood what this opportunity could offer to their company!
Back then, I expected to be applauded with this initiative. My intentions, however, was greeted with scorn and suspicion. From many sides, I was ridiculed, even called a commercial robber, but later called "Robin Hood with his iron". Eventually, people admitted their mistake, fortunately.
That shift is now also clearly visible in the support we receive from the business partners for the KIA Speed Skating Academy. A huge number of companies have financially supported us through adopting a room in our academy. Their name is shown largely on the door of that room, they are literally an ambassaDOOR of our newest initiative. But also a big number of other companies have helped us by donating goods or services. From high quality door locks to anti-asthma carpet, from furniture to a complete kitchen and from comfortable mattresses to plaster ornaments. And of course this facebook. You can not think of anything we did not have help for. This broad support shows my staff and I the special recognition for the need to keep renewing the international speed skating sport. Therefore, this book has been made out of gratitude for all the support we had. Hopefully you will soon benefit from it as well. Use it as a reference for the moment you wish to seek the help of one of our friends of the Academy. I sincerely hope that this will work. I am very grateful to everyone for their trust in us and for believing in something what was just a plan two years ago. We had already permanently changed the speed skating sport wit Sport Navigator.NL and now with the KIA Speed Skating Academy we make another step in the development of international speed skating. I sincerely hope that this will inspire other people as well to take responsibility!
Marnix Wieberdink, Inzell, March 10, 2011