The organization of the world’s fastest skating show (with Wietze Jongsma as chairman of the board) has decided to remove the upcoming edition, which was scheduled for Wednesday March 10, 2021, from the calendar. The current corona measures make it impossible to organize De Zilveren Bal in the desired way. Two factors play a decisive role in this: the World Cup final and the audience on the side of the ice.
The combination in which De Zilveren Bal takes place just a few days after the World Cup final is essential for the participation of the international top skaters. The World Cup Final was scheduled for March 6 and 7 in Heerenveen, but was removed from the calendar. The international character of De Zilveren Bal has become increasingly powerful in recent years. Big names such as Angelina Golikova, Yuma Murakami, Laurent Dubreuil and Nao Kodaira have graced the participant lists in recent years. It is practically impossible for them to be in the Netherlands on the planned date.
In addition, the public plays an essential role. “They provide the unique setting in which the skaters skate through a tunnel of booing and shouting. You don’t see that anywhere else ”, said tournament director Jan Ykema. At the moment there is no view of well-stocked stadiums, which means that an important aspect of the event is omitted. “I cannot imagine a tournament without an audience. They are essential for the atmosphere of De Zilveren Bal ”, Ykema continues.
The option to organize the tournament on a smaller scale and without an audience has been considered, but it detracts from the concept according to Ykema. “De Zilveren Bal has developed in recent years into a unique and idiosyncratic concept. Show and top sport go hand in hand and both aspects must be of high quality in our opinion. That just won’t work this season. ” The organization no longer wants to leave it unanswered whether the tournament will take place or not and if so, in what form. “For the skaters, sponsors and the public it is nice to know where they stand. Although it is not the message that we like to deliver ”, says Ykema.
The fact that the unique sprint event will disappear completely from the skating calendar is certainly not the case. In recent years the tournament has undergone enormous development and the organization certainly wants to continue. The World Cup final is once again scheduled for the Netherlands next season. An important condition for another great field of participants is thus met. Ykema is already looking forward to it: “As far as we are concerned, the Elfstedenhal will be the setting for the sixth edition in March 2022.”