Tijmen Snel at the European Championships in Thialf in early January 2022.
Tijmen Snel in action. He keeps hoping to be allowed to go to the Olympics as a stand-in. (Photo: Stephan Tellier)

Ice-skater Tijmen Snel and his team won the team sprint at the European Championships at Thialf last week. A plaster on his wound for his no-honoured Olympic nomination.

Lees in het Nederlands

With team mates Merijn Scheperkamp and Kai Verbij of Team Jumbo-Visma, the TU Delft student of Mechanical Engineering’s time of 1:19:77 was twelve hundredths faster than Norway who finished second.

His 1,500 metres the next day was less glorious. At the end of December, Tijmen Snel surprisingly ended third at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for this distance. This made him a candidate for the Olympic Games Beijing. But the skating union selected his team mate, Marcel Bosker, as the crucial link in the team pursuit.

‘Very disappointing’, posted the Mechanical Engineering student on Instagram, ‘unfortunately no Games for me! My OQT was great, but it is not to be ... On to the rest of the season.’

Congratulations on your gold medal. How do you feel looking back at the European Championships?
“I have mixed feelings. Winning the team sprint on Saturday was really wonderful, but I only skated 1,500 metres on Sunday. I was very disappointed. I skated a good race at that distance at the OQT, but at the European Championships it was hard to get myself going. That was clear even from the lap times. I don’t understand how this happened.”

‘If they ask me as a stand-in I would certainly go’

The team sprint may have won gold, but it didn’t go perfectly either.
“No, it didn’t go smoothly. I made a mistake at the beginning. You then have to catch up and you pay the price for the mistake in the last lap.”

Did it make a difference that only six countries competed?
“Only six may compete. You need to win these places at the world cup competitions. There are not that many European teams that can get a qualified team together. This is just the way it is.”

The skating union will soon announce which two skaters may go to China as substitutes, to stand in for any covid cases if they occur. What do you think your chances are?
“Good question. I have no idea how they take the decision. They need skaters who are versatile and have the chance to win gold. They will be hard to find outside the team. I’m curious about what they will do.”

Would you want to go as a substitute?
“I only heard about this on Monday morning. If they ask me I would certainly go.”

How is the rest of your programme going?
“If I am not selected, the National Championships in two weeks time will be my goal. There is one place to be shared out for the World Championship sprint at the end of February.”

You have been in the Jumbo-Visma top athlete team now for nearly one year. How is it going?
“It’s going well. I am enjoying it. I am still making progress and am learning plenty of new things.”

Your studies are currently on hold. Do you get any support from TU Delft as a top athlete?
“I finished by bachelor’s in the last academic year and want to start on my master’s after my skating career. As I am not registered anymore, I do not get any support from TU Delft.”

Update 17 January: The selection committee of the KNSB has now designated the skaters who will go to the Olympic Games as reserves. Tijmen Snel is not one of them.