On 21 and 22 January, Mayon Kuipers will be entering her first world cup competition in Salt Lake City. ‘It's been going so well all year.'
Everything has been falling into place for Kuipers this last year, after she transferred from Gewest Friesland to Team Anker, a women's sprint team. The 23-year-old student of nutrition at VHL Leeuwarden is upbeat and feeling fitter. ‘I have taken great strides this year. We train together with the men sprinters in the APPM team. That is good for my speed, and at last I have got people to compete with.' She learned a lot technically too, both from her own trainer Dennis van der Gun and from the men's trainer, Gerard van Velden. She successfully honed her start with small improvements to her starting posture and the way she moves her knees in the first few strides. ‘I am even skating better in the 1,000 metres.'
Things went wrong in the National Championship distances in October though. Because of nerves, says Kuipers. ‘I desperately wanted to qualify for the world cup competitions'. Two months later she did succeed in Heerenveen. And this enables her to take part in the world cup competition in Salt Lake City, somewhere she has never been before. ‘I have been to Calgary before. The altitude and the speed take a bit of getting used to but it is cool to skate on such a fast track.'
Kuipers flies out on Thursday 12 January. One thing she'll pack in her suitcase will be a few DVDs of the American series Everwood. ‘To watch before I go to sleep.'