Five things to know about Dutch skating star Jorien ter Mors

She was the first female athlete to win Winter Olympic medals in two disciplines at the same Games, but did you know that Ter Mors once nearly quit speed skating?

By Evelyn Watta
Picture by Getty Images

Jorien ter Mors is enjoying one of her best seasons to date ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

This is likely because the short track speed skater is training pain-fee for the first time in three years.

The timing could not be better.

After a career that has included three speed skating long track Olympic gold medals and one short track speed skating bronze medal so far, the flying Dutchwoman is now looking to land the perfect ending to her Olympic career.

"It is very nice to have a pain-free, fresh body. And now that I'm fit, I'm going to think that maybe something beautiful is possible in Beijing. And that stimulates me,” she told Dutch site NU.

"I now know that I am not a skater who can rule every weekend, but I think it is nice to be top at exactly the right time once every four years. It gives me a lot of confidence for next season that I can already do that for two years."

Here are five things you should know about the 31-year-old star, who will compete at her fourth Olympic Games in China.

Jorien ter Mors won medals in speed skating and short track speed skating at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

1) Ter Mors almost quit speed skating

Ter Mors first started speed skating aged 11, and has been a member of the Netherlands national team since the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

However, elite competition over so many years took it's toll on the three-time Olympic gold medal winner's body.

In 2017, a back injury that forced her to miss several events. After taking gold in the 1000m speed skating and bronze in the 3000m short track speed skating at PyeongChang 2018, Ter Mors underwent knee surgery that kept her off the ice for nine months, and three years to fully recover.

"I've said to myself so many times: What am I doing this for?" she said in an interview with Dutch magazine Helden in January 2021.

Her coaches Martin and Erwin ten Hove at her Team IKO encouraged her to keep fighting.

"Every time I shouted again that I wanted to end it, they said, 'You have entered a trajectory, stopping halfway through will make you regret a lot later.' They were right. I'm also not someone who gives up, always keep fighting. But it was so hard.”

2) Jorien ter Mors is a mental health advocate

But it wasn't only physical pain that weighed down on the nine-time European gold medallist.

The psychology graduate suffered some tragic losses in her private life that have affected her mentally.

Her father died of cancer in 2013, and in May 2021 she lost her 33-year old-sister who was born with a muscle disease.

Ter Mors revealed in an interview with NRC last October, that she sought the help of a psychologist to gain perspective.

“I think it is often wrongly seen as a weakness when you go to therapy. You are labelled as someone who has something wrong with you."

"Whereas I think it can always contribute something, even if you feel good about yourself. For example, I can now work with myself in a different way,” she reasoned.

Ter Mors said therapy helped her overcome some of her career setbacks.

"There are much worse things in life than not being able to perform at your best on an ice rink," she told NU. "I have experienced enough outside of skating, so that I can put bad results into perspective. I realise that life isn't all about medals.

“I have been working with a psychologist for many years but the way in which that happens now is very different from the past. It is confrontational and requires you to be very honest with yourself. At least, if you're striving for change. It's not always fun to look at yourself in the mirror. I'll do it, because I know that I can compete better on the ice."

3) Speed skating motorbike enthusiast

Ter Mors loves speed on and off the ice.

When she is not flying down rinks, she likes the thrill and fun of riding her motorbikes.

She told Dutch Motor site, motor.nl, how pleased she was when she acquired her first bike.

“Motorcycle riding is something I've looked forward to for years. I'm really enjoying riding my motorcycle, although I find that I want more. Ever faster and always slanting through the bends.”

4) Extra motivation for Winter Olympic swan song

Ter Mors has learnt how to turn her pain into victories.

After losing her father, she promised to try and win Olympic gold in his memory. In May 2021 at her sister’s cremation she said: ‘I will fight to frame you in a golden frame’.

“I would like to give her something beautiful," Ter Mors said. "That’s what I said to my dad too. And I was able to make that happen.”

“I don’t think I’m going to see another Olympics (after Beijing 2022). I will continue for one or two years. I started as a short tracker. Then I combined it. Now I'm losing as a long tracker. Then my story is complete.”

5) Ter Mors the jewellery maker

So what happens once the skates have been hung up? Perhaps become a creative artisan?

After making history at PyeongChang 2018, where she became the first woman in the history of the Winter Olympics to win two medals in two disciplines, Ter Mors ventured into jewellery making.

The Dutch speedster has even launched her own jewellery line called ‘Van Jorien'.

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