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Dutch Canadian senior skates unopposed to a world title

N.A. participants mostly Dutch

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ALKMAAR, the Netherlands - British Columbia-resident Agatha Van Dorp Vanderstarre captured a world title at the recent Senior Games of the International Seniors Speed Skating Committee. She participated in the women’s classification of those aged 70 and over. She had not anticipated to be the only one to enter that competition which was the case when the other entrant failed to show for the March event in Alkmaar. Dutch-born Vanderstarre won the world title.

Two other categories of the Senior Games also had a less than full complement of medal winners. In the women’s 65 - 70 years of age group only two skaters competed, as was the case in the men’s 80+ group. Three women skated for medals in the 60-65 category and three in the men’s 75-80 group. Competition was not less fierce however, although finishing times often were far apart.

The large Dutch home contingent - the ISSC limited the total number of entrants to 200 - won all of the contested world titles, with the exception of the women’s 65-70 group, where the Russian skater bested her German colleague, and the category of Vanderstarre.

Super Masters

A handful of participants each of Germany, Russia, Canada (four women and nine men), Switzerland, Fin-land, Italy and the U.S. (two women) entered the Senior Games. The North Americans skated mostly in the ‘super senior’ categories. Dutch Canadian Tony Zegers won the silver medal in the men’s 70-75 group, where Canadian Pierre Gagnee skated to bronze. Gerrit Bos, recently crowned as North American Masters champion, came in fourth, fellow Dutch Canadian Peter Blokker was ninth in the same 70-75 category.

In the ‘second-youngest’ group, those of women 35-40, Anja Bollaart was a repeat winner, she also had captured the Masters title in 2000 in a classification for those below 35-years of age. Bollaart was the only name participant in the competition: in the 1980s, she won a number of medals in various Dutch championships. In the women’s group of 50-55, the bronze medal went to Dimphy Romme, the mother of reigning World and European Champion allround Gianni Romme.

Participants at the Senior Games were given a special treat at the awards ceremony and banquest when prizes were presented by Yvonne van Gennip, a three times gold medal winner in speedskating at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.

The performances of Mrs. Vanderstarre and many of her contemporaries and juniors have prompted the ISSC to drop the word ‘seniors’ and replace it with ‘masters’. The 2004 Games, to be held in Inzell, Germany as a result will be known as the Masters Tournament.