Olympian Arne Dankers Bides Farewell to Speed Skating

After an 8-year carreer on the Canada’s long track speed skating national team, Olympic medalist Arne Dankers (Calgary, AB) announced recently that he was officially retiring from competitive speed skating.

Arne Dankers at a national competition in 07-08, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
Twenty-eight years old Dankers started speed skating when he was 8, and his first international competition was the World Junior Championship in 1998. The athlete went on to a successful international carreer, with one of the major highlights being a silver medal with the pursuit team and finishing 5th in the 5000m at the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games. Dankers then went on to finish 4th in both the 5000m and 10 000m the following year at the World Single Distance Championships.

For the last five years, Arne Dankers has been the strongest long distance male skater in Canada, and he retires from competition with four Canadian Records in his name (3000m, 5000m, 10 000m and member of the team pursuit). He has been Canadian Champion in the 5000m every year since the 2003-04 season.

“With his achievements in long distances as a long track speed skater, Arne has set up the tone, showed others that we can do well in long distances as well,” said Xiuli Wang, who has coached Dankers for most of his time on the National Team. “I believe his contribution is very valuable in the long run, that Arne’s career has encouraged more people to love long distances.”

While pursuing his speed skating career at the Calgary Olympic Oval, the athlete was also focusing on studies, and he graduated from the University of Calgary in 2005 with an Electrical engineering Degree. He is now planning on finishing his Masters degree in the same field, hopefully this year.

Speed Skating Canada’s High Performance and Olympic Program Director, Brian Rahill, was speaking on behalf of the entire organisation when he said: “We will definitely miss Arne, who has been our strongest male long distance skater for many years. His achievements, both in speed skating and in school, are to be commended and are a perfect manifestation of the holistic development that we try to instil in our athletes. We would like to congratulate him on his athletic career and wish him the best of luck for the future.”

Dankers put a lot of thought into this decision. With the 2010 Olympic Winter

Arne Dankers, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
Games being just about a year from now, in his home country, this was not an easy decision to make.

"I have taken a long time to decide to officially retire," explained the athlete. "But in light of everything, I think this is the best move for me to make. I would like to thank everyone in the speed skating community – volunteers, coaches, the staff of the Olympic Oval and Speed Skating Canada, our sponsors – for their continued support and hard work. They all play a huge role in our sport, and it would not be possible for Canada to have such great athletes if it were not for their dedication and enthusiasm for the sport of speed skating. They probably don't get thanked enough for what they do, so I want to make sure that I thank everyone for running meets, writing programs, booking travel tickets, making the ice, providing funding, for bettering the sport of speed skating."

Arne Dankers, who married fellow national team skater Kerry Dankers (Simpson) last summer, will still be keeping a close eye on speed skating in the next year, cheering on his wife and former teammates as they race to gold.

Speed Skating Canada joins Arne’s former teammates to thank him for his exceptional contribution throughout the years and to wish him the best with his new ambitions.