Figure skater Joan Haanappel (83) did everything for ‘the most beautiful sport in the world’

Former figure skater Joan Haanappel has died at the age of 83. The ANP news agency reported this on Saturday based on the Netherlands Figure Skating Foundation, which she founded. Haanappel was Dutch champion four times in a row from 1955 onwards, won European bronze three times and came fifth at the Olympic Games in 1960.

Although she retired from top-level figure skating after that year, Haanappel remained committed to her sport. She became a commentator for NOS Studio Sport and Eurosport, a director of the KNSB skating association and a jury member in the RTL program Dancing On Ice. Haanappel was chairman of her foundation for many years, which was later named after her. On the website of the foundation, Haanappel still introduces visitors to “the most beautiful sport in the world”.

Together with former world champion Sjoukje Dijkstra, Haanappel made it her mission to make figure skating great in the Netherlands. The two did not receive much support from the KNSB skating association, they made it clear in an interview with in 2017 NRC. Haanappel: “We are a thorn in the side of the KNSB. Because we keep figure skating alive.”


As a director, Haanappel stopped after just a few years. It was a sad decision, she told the ANP news agency in 2008. Her task to put Dutch figure skating on the international map was, in her own words, “made impossible”.

Haanappel had no children, grandchildren, brothers or sisters, so she left her money to her foundation, she said in the NRC interview. “I can donate the money to charity, of course, but I built the foundation. It must continue to exist, so that’s where my money goes. By the way, I wouldn’t drink one less drink because of it.”

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