Have you seen the movie where there’s a boy that chooses to take ballet so he can work out with all these beautiful girls? All of his friends envy him and regret it wasn’t their idea in the first place.
As female speed skaters, we have our own version of this story, and we can’t complain either. We’re on the warm up track among all those muscled male bodies in tight lycra skin suits. Yes, women very much admire a nicely rounded bottom and tight, washboard abs that strain right through those suits. Yes, we ladies are privileged. It’s phenomenal to view the men up close and personally during their flying laps. To be so close you can sense their power. It gets us going too.
And all those guys…we know they’re the same way around us. Super-fit women in super-tight skate suits, just inches away but so far from reach. We’re accessible but unattainable. Yes, we know how the boys like to watch!
Well, when I put my suit on, it’s like the silkiest of tights, and it feels super sexy. The spandex suit makes my butt look flawless, like a thing to be worshiped on demand. But then there’s that zipper that goes right up the middle in front, taking away what little femininity my super-compression sport bra left behind. At this point, I almost look manly!
Once I add the helmet and sunglasses, the transformation is complete. I am more athlete than woman, and you will come to know my fury. I don’t care what I look like, as long as I’m ahead of you. I become a winner, with a face of ferocity and a determination to leave you in the dust. When I’m in the zone, my cosmetic clutch is far from where it’s at. I grunt, groan, curse and spit. I even loll out my tongue, drool and sweat. And guess what? I smell just as bad as you do after I’ve given it my all.
I skate as fast as I can, and sometimes that’s faster than you. But then I’m done. I take off my helmet and let the wind blow through my hair. I open the zipper, take a deep breath, free myself of the bondage of race suits, soften my attitude and restore my womanly appeal. I know…you’re surprised. You look at me and you realize that you didn’t expect to see that much of a difference, didn’t expect such an under-cover competitor. I’m the girl-next-door who kicks your butt, takes your name and your heart. From high-heels to eight wheels. From painted nails to road rash. I move seamlessly between two worlds, from lines running up the back of my stockings to holding my line on the track. Around the next curve: victory, and that’s ever so sweet.
Written by Mariska Huisman for Schaatsen.nl
Translated by Geert Plender & Chris Howley