The long and short of Jorien ter Mors
Originally a short track specialist, the Netherlands’ Jorien ter Mors won two gold medals in the women’s speed skating at Sochi 2014.
Initial skating success
Jorien ter Mors made her Olympic debut aged 20 in the short track events at 2010 Vancouver, where she finished 23rd overall in the women’s 500m and helped the Netherlands to claim fourth place in the 3,000m relay.
In 2012, at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Mlada Boleslav (CZE), she landed the 1,000m crown, and won two silver medals in the 1,500m and 3,000m. Two years later in Dresden (GER), she added victories in the 1,500m, 3,000m and 3,000m relay and finished second in the 1,000m, to become the first Dutchwoman to claim European titles in every short track distance.
The Enschede-born skater went on to amass a total of 19 European individual and team medals (eight gold, six silver and five bronze) and three ICU World Championship medals (two silver and one bronze) in short track.
Experimenting with long track to improve her fitness in 2012, tter Mors soon became aware of her huge potential in the timed discipline, and enjoyed success in several ICU World Cup gatherings, notably in the 1,500m, setting a new track record of 1:54.88 seconds at the World Cup event at Berlin’s Sportforum Hohenschönhausen (GER) in December 2013.
“I know that I skated fast and tried to have an even race, which resulted in a nice time,” she said after that success. “I’ve been focusing on my technique as I know I can do better. I enjoy what I do, in both long track and short track.”
Short track disappointments
Determined to prove her versatility, in 2014 ter Mors made history by becoming the first female athlete to enter both the short track and long track speed skating competitions at an Olympic Winter Games.
Her short track results in Sochi were solid but unspectacular, as she finished sixth in the 500m and fourth in the 1,500m. In the women’s 3,000m relay, the Dutch quartet featuring ter Mors was disqualified in the semi-finals.
At the Adler Arena Skating Centre on 16 February 2002, ter Mors completed an astonishing conversion by capturing a gold medal in the 1,500 long track final, setting a new Olympic record of 1:53.51, as she finished ahead of three of her compatriots, Ireen Wüst (silver medal), Lotte van Beek (bronze) and Marrit Leenstra (fourth place).
“I'm not used to these kinds of situations,” she admitted. “In short track you immediately know if you have won,” she said. “Now I have to wait and it was very nerve-wracking. I never expected to win gold here, but I had a very good race. Technically it was good. I kept pace and skated in a compact position; it was just about keeping it going. At the finish line I looked up and saw I was first.”
A few days later, ter Mors, van Beek, Leenstra and Wüst joined forces to secure gold for the Netherlands in the women’s team pursuit, defeating Poland by seven seconds in the final. It was one of 23 speed skating medals won by the dominant Dutch in Sochi.
“We trained very hard for this and have kept our focus throughout, and if you do that, you’re going to do well,” said ter Mors. “We’ve got a lot of great skaters who are all highly competitive; that’s the reason we just keep on improving.”