Joy Beune most talked about skater during World Cup in Poland: ‘I am never negligent, I am not like that’

Joy Beune instantly became the most talked about skater of the fourth World Cup weekend on Saturday, after the Dutch pursuit team was disqualified because she was not wearing her transponder. Still, she received support from her teammates.

On Saturday evening in Tomaszów Mazowiecki – hours after the Netherlands had missed out on gold despite having the fastest time – the scapegoat sought out Irene Schouten and Marijke Groenewoud. Her devastated teammates bit their tongues when it turned out that Beune was driving around without a transponder. “I was afraid they would drop me,” Beune said on Sunday afternoon, “but they don’t. That also makes them top sporting women.”

Schouten held back on Saturday afternoon when the NOS microphone was held in front of her mouth immediately after the failed race. “Not smart,” she said forcefully. Groenewoud also tried to remain polite: “This should not happen. We have to be careful about that.”

Second time

It was the second consecutive time that things went terribly wrong with the pursuit team. During the first failure, last March, Beune drove around with a bare ankle, which is against safety protocol. That even cost the Dutch women, who clocked the fastest time in Thialf that evening, the world title. Due to Saturday’s mistake, participation in the next World Distance Championships (in February in Canada) in this discipline is in doubt.

Beune took all the blame on Saturday evening. And also withdrew the accusation that someone had taken her transponders. The IKO rider had simply forgotten to strap the device for precise timekeeping around her ankle. How could that happen? Beune: “I don’t understand it either. I’m normally not that negligent, I always have everything right. This doesn’t suit me, this isn’t me.”

Too many

But because everyone has been paying attention to her since the catastrophic World Cup, it sometimes becomes too much for Beune, as it turned out. “It already started in Obihiro, during the first World Cup a few weeks ago,” she said on Sunday afternoon. “Have you covered your ankles, have you covered your ankles?” I get asked it again and again, over and over again. Here in Poland everyone keeps talking about those ankles. Whether my socks fit properly.”

In all that hustle and bustle, she neglected to stick her transponder on her leg. Initially, Erik Bouwman took all the blame. The IKO trainer said on Saturday evening: “I could kick myself. You stand there and you look at it. We were so focused on Joy’s ankles and her neck protection that we didn’t think about those transponders at all. I’m to blame for this, no one else.”

Nothing to blame

National coach Rintje Ritsma could not be blamed, he thought. “As a skater you must feel displaced if you are not wearing transponders. So I can’t understand why you don’t wear those things. From now on, a babysitter will simply have to be assigned to check everything.”

Beune, Sunday afternoon: “Of course I have felt better at times. But luckily I talked to Irene and Marijke last night. And also with the national coach. A lot has come my way, with many unpleasant reactions, especially on social media. There are people who stand up for me, but I am also seen as a stupid person. Why am I reading all that? I get tagged in everything and also get a lot of private messages. So I have to read it. Anyway, I blame myself for this. It’s my fault that things have gone wrong for the second time. And no one else. We just don’t get rewarded because I did something stupid.”

‘Sporty top women’

How did the conversation with Schouten and Groenewoud go? “I was afraid those girls would drop me. But luckily they understand that I feel like shit. They also know that this is the fastest team, that this team should not fall apart. They had every right to be angry with me. They also wanted to speak to me to discuss this. That also makes them top sporting women. We will now try to set the fastest time in Salt Lake City, during the next World Cup. So we can just go to the World Cup.”

Saturday had started so well for Beune. She won her first World Cup medal of the season (bronze in the 1500 meters) after finishing fourth six times in seven previous attempts. “I rode the 1500 meters for the first time with both hands behind my back. I never do that otherwise. Recently in Beijing I thought that was too big of a gamble. Now I dared and it finally paid off in a medal.” Bouwman: “That celebration was completely overshadowed by what happened in the team pursuit. This will never happen to us again, I’m sure.”