By the time of the 1972 Sapporo Games, Schenk held the world record for three of the four Olympic distances: the 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000m. Racing during a snowstorm, Schenk won the 5,000m by 4.57 seconds. In the 500m, he fell after four steps and finished 34th. Schenk came back to win the 1,500m and the 10,000m.
Two weeks later he became the first skater in 60 years to sweep all four events at the world championships. Schenk was considered such a hero in the Netherlands that a flower was named in his honour: Crocus chrysanthus Ard Schenk.