Michael cannot skate, but participated in the National Skating Championships in Sneek

Klunen. For carnival celebrants from Breda, Roosendaal and Tilburg, this is nothing more than a trip where you go from pub to pub in carnival clothes to score stamps. The National Climbing Championships are very different, where you try to set the fastest time in sports shoes and skates. A big difference, but Michael Dansen, who participated in the National Championships, finished 22nd (out of 120 participants). “I don’t remember signing up. I can’t skate at all.”

It still makes him laugh. A few weeks ago, Michael received an unexpected call from an unknown woman. “She asked me what I liked most about skating. I said, Jutta Leerdam, but nothing else. She asked why are you participating in the National Skating Championships?” he says in the radio program De Zuidtribune of Omroep Brabant.

It turned out that he was registered for the National Clutch Championships in Sneek. There were 2000 registrations, but he was drawn with 120 others. “I still wonder how I gave up. Maybe I did it myself when I had a beer at the Bredaas klunen or maybe friends did it.”

In any case, especially when the carnival in Sneek turned out to be on Carnival Sunday, Michael had no intention of going. “But then an article suddenly appeared in the local newspaper a week before. Then everyone knew and I had to.”

Carnival scarf
He took his skates and sweatpants out of the closet and, wearing an orange-red carnival scarf, Michael traveled to Sneek with his girlfriend (as a spectator). “We had to sprint 170 meters in shoes, then put on skates at a bench and then walk 100 meters on skates, including over a bridge. Fortunately, I was first in a group that had not practiced either.”

There were six preliminary rounds. Miraculously, Michael ended up in the final. “There I was with all kinds of klutzes who had trained for months. They could really do it.” Very different from him, as can be seen from images. He walks on skates like a waddling duck, sometimes holding on to a fence or bridge. “That really doesn’t look like much,” he admits. “You think, what’s that coming stumbling around the corner.”

Next year again? “Certainly not. Especially not when it’s carnival again. This was really a one-off,” he laughs.