1964 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Sjoukje Dijkstra (NED) dies at 82

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Sjoukje Dijkstra of the Netherlands, who won the 1964 Olympic women’s singles figure skating title and three world championships, has died at age 82, according to the Dutch National Olympic Committee.
“Sjoukje Dijkstra was a figure skating legend,” committee chairwoman Anneke van Zanen-Nieberg said in a statement, translated from the original Dutch. “An icon, there is no other word. With her death, an era really comes to an end.”
An era comes to an end with the death of Sjoukje Dijkstra (May 2, 2024):
Machine translated excerpts:
It is with great sadness that we learned that Sjoukje Dijkstra passed away at the age of 82. The figure skater gave the Netherlands the first gold medal ever at the Winter Olympics in 1964. We wish the relatives a lot of strength with their loss.
...
Sjoukje Dijkstra was in a class of her own in figure skating in the first half of the 1960s. The Frisian became European champion five times (1960-1964) and world champion three times (1962-64). She was named Sportswoman of the Year six times (1959-64).
As a 14-year-old she made her debut at the Winter Olympics. In Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956 she came twelfth. Four years later she captured silver in Squaw Valley. She crowned her career in 1964 by winning gold at the Winter Games in Innsbruck. For the Netherlands it was the first gold medal at the Winter Games ever.
After the Games in 1964, she switched to ice revue. She remained associated with Holiday on Ice until 1973. In 2005 she received the Fanny Blankers-Koen Carrière Prize from NOC*NSF. In 2013, she was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Van Zanen-Nieberg: "She showed how hard work can make your dream come true. Together with her inseparable friend Joan Haanappel, who passed away in February of this year , she was a very important international ambassador for figure skating. Role models too, who have kept sport alive, with Sjoukje taking a modest but powerful role."
"Befitting her Olympic status, she was committed to investing in young generations of figure skaters. We owe it to her to manage her legacy and continue to give figure skating a full place in the Dutch sporting landscape."
 
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AngieNikodinovLove (ANL)

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Thank you for posting this. So I assume members of the 1961 US team must have known her and some probably competed against her.

One thing I’m confused about this had been the first Olympic gold medal in the winter sports for the Netherlands? They never had a gold medal before this in any other winter Olympic discipline?
 

Vagabond

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One thing I’m confused about this had been the first Olympic gold medal in the winter sports for the Netherlands? They never had a gold medal before this in any other winter Olympic discipline?
Never.


This is remarkable because speed skating had been an Olympic sport long before 1964 and the Netherlands has won more medals in that sport than any other country.
 

SkateGuard

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Sylvia

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"Terribly sad news, following the passing of her good friend Joan Haanappel. #RIPSjoukje 😢💔 Sjoukje & Joan were Skating Superstars in Holland for decades, appearing in Holiday on Ice shows after turning professional. Sjoukje was an athletic high jumper.🖤" https://twitter.com/Huriye/status/1786142765132263907

Thank you @floskate (Dijkstra's 1964 Innsbruck Olympics FS): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lS6tohTgds
Sjoukje had trained for years in London at the famed Richmond rink under Arnold Gerschwiler. An incredibly powerful skater she had a massive double axel and in this, her Olympic winning performance, also landed the double lutz which was such a problem throughout her career. Note at the end after curtseying to teh audience she skates towards teh barrier to curtsey to the memnberos of the Dutch Royal Family who were in attendance. Having been completely dominant on the world level since 1961, she could not have skated any better. Now here it can be seen for the first time in it's entirety!

Former figure skater Joan Haanappel has passed away (February 24, 2024) - includes an ANP photo of Joan Haanappel and Sjoukje Dijkstra:
Machine translated excerpts:
On February 23, 2024, former figure skater Joan Haanappel passed away at the age of 83. Haanappel is considered one of the best figure skaters the Netherlands has ever had. NOC*NSF wishes the surviving relatives a lot of strength with their loss.
Haanappel became national champion four times and won three bronze medals at European championships in the 1950s. She participated twice in the Olympic Games, where she finished thirteenth (1956) and fifth (1960) respectively. She ended her top sports career after the 1960 World Cup, where she finished fifth. After her sports career, she joined the Wiener IJsrevue and later with Holiday on Ice. She continued her career as a commentator and reporter for NOS, AVRO, ZDF and Eurosport, among others.
In 2008, Haanappel received the distinction of Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau for her contributions to the sport. That same year, she founded the Dutch Figure Skating Foundation (SKN) together with her friend and former fellow skater Sjoukje Dijkstra. The aim of the foundation was to promote figure skating in the Netherlands and to support young talent.
Despite the challenges, Haanappel managed to organize training camps at the De Uithof ice rink in The Hague, where talents were coached by international experts. Her determination and perseverance allowed her to organize these camps four times a year, which ultimately led to the Olympic participation of Dutch figure skater Lindsay van Zundert in the Beijing Winter Games (2022).
“Everyone involved with SKN will miss Joan enormously,” the foundation said in a press release. “For her it was about the children, their dreams and about letting top talent in figure skating shine forever. We will forever honor her great contribution to figure skating and continue her legacy and the Netherlands Figure Skating Foundation with conviction and determination.”
Haanappel and her husband had lived for some time in Wezembeek-Oppem, Belgium, near Brussels. She died in the hospital in Leuven.
 
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sadya

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Skating filmed by a Miss Gelms in The Netherlands in the '60s, also shows other champions from that era:
1963 Sjoukje Dijkstra op de Parade van Wereldkampioenen door juffrouw Gelms

1964 Sjoukje Dijkstra met Olympische- en Wereldkampioenen door juffrouw Gelms
 

Frau Muller

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Skating filmed by a Miss Gelms in The Netherlands in the '60s, also shows other champions from that era:
1963 Sjoukje Dijkstra op de Parade van Wereldkampioenen door juffrouw Gelms

1964 Sjoukje Dijkstra met Olympische- en Wereldkampioenen door juffrouw Gelms
Fabulous films, of an outdoors “Stars on Ice” of its era…1963: not only Sjoukje - twisting at the 7:10 min mark- but also the World champs in all disciplines! (Ice dancing Romans siblings of Czech simply divine!) What a show and genius to Miss Gelms for having filmed it! This is the gang who made me love skating in old TV films in Puerto Rico - the class of 1964 Innsbruck!

May the soul of Sjoukje Dijkstra rest in peace! ❤️ 💕 💗
 
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Lindsay van Zundert's tribute to Sjoukje Dijkstra (pictured together) as well as Joan Haanappel:
 

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2 articles in Dutch...

Sjoukje Dijkstra and Joan Haanappel in the spotlight one more time (May 3) by ELLA VERMEULEN woth photos from the National Archives:
The way Sjoukje and Joan whizzed, swung and spun across the ice was world class.
On Saturday, NTR will broadcast a repeat of the program Andere Tijds (2014) about Sjoukje Dijkstra and Joan Haanappel following the death of Dijkstra . The repeat can be seen on NPO 1 at 10 a.m.
Dijkstra and Haanappel were "the king's couple of Dutch figure skating", according to the NTR. “Rivals, but also friends. With Sjoukje and Joan, the Netherlands was at the absolute world top in figure skating for many years.”
Haanappel, also an icon from Dutch figure skating, died on February 23 this year at the age of 83. She won three bronze medals at the European Championships and participated twice in the Olympic Games, where she finished thirteenth and fifth. After her fifth place at the 1960 World Championships, she chose to end her career and continue in ice revues.

Sjoukje Dijkstra has passed away, one of the greatest sports legends the Netherlands has ever had.
By JURRYT VAN DE VOOREN (includes a photo of Queen Juliana congratulating Dijkstra on winning her Olympic title):
Sjoukje Dijkstra was born in 1942 in Akkrum, Friesland, but before her first birthday she moved to Amstelveen, where father Lou took over a doctor's practice. Through him, Dijkstra naturally came into contact with sports. He did speeding, cycling, sailing, all kinds of sports. In 1936 he even participated in the Winter Olympics. In his practice he assessed members of Amsterdam sports clubs.
On her sixth birthday, Dijkstra received her first figure skates from her father. A particularly good choice, it turned out, although she never knew why he came up with that idea. “Perhaps he saw Sonja Henie riding during those 1936 Winter Games and was so impressed that he resolved to one day give figure skates to his daughter, if he were to have them.”
In 1962, Dijkstra became the first Dutchman to win the World Figure Skating Championships. Two years later she won gold at the Winter Olympics, also a first for our country.
On March 1, 1964, she added another world title in Dortmund, the third in a row. And that happened with enormous force majeure, to the delight of the thousands of Dutch supporters.
"On the night from Saturday to Sunday, two Dutch people dressed from head to toe in red, white and blue walked arm in arm across a square in sleeping Dortmund," wrote Het Parool. 'They sang the song that has been regarded as the Dutch national anthem since Saturday evening in this Westphalian city: Hand in hand comrades, for Sjoukje one.'
She then said goodbye to competitive sports, but remained involved in her beloved sport all her life, together with Joan Haanappel.
Video (below): "In 1964, Sjoukje Dijksta won the European Championship, the World Cup and gold at the Winter Olympics. Back in Amsterdam she gave this demonstration on the Jaap Edenbaan."
 

AngieNikodinovLove (ANL)

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2 articles in Dutch...

Sjoukje Dijkstra and Joan Haanappel in the spotlight one more time (May 3) by ELLA VERMEULEN woth photos from the National Archives:



Sjoukje Dijkstra has passed away, one of the greatest sports legends the Netherlands has ever had.
By JURRYT VAN DE VOOREN (includes a photo of Queen Juliana congratulating Dijkstra on winning her Olympic title):


Video (below): "In 1964, Sjoukje Dijksta won the European Championship, the World Cup and gold at the Winter Olympics. Back in Amsterdam she gave this demonstration on the Jaap Edenbaan."

Amazing, thanks for sharing
 

Frau Muller

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I was rewatching the amazing archival show films by Miss Gelms. In the 1964 one…
…I was in awe of the charismatic German skater Sepp Schoenmetzler (at 3:29 minute), with his style, tricks and plaid shirt, he’s the ‘60s equivalent of Keegan Messing! Love him!
I read that he was made an honorary citizen of Colorado Springs. He must have been a hit at the 65 Worlds, regardless of standings.

Dijkstra assembled a great crew of skaters for her shows.
 
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Sylvia

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From the Dutch skating federation website KNSB and its news/info platform Schaatsen.nl (machine translations of the first 2 are copied out below):

Figure skating icon Sjoukje Dijkstra (82) has passed away (May 2):

A legend, a great, an icon. These are all descriptions that more than rightly apply to figure skater Sjoukje Dijkstra, who passed away today (May 2). The passing of the 1964 Olympic champion in Innsbruck and three-time world champion was announced on social media by her daughter Katja Kossmayer.

'Dear everyone, it was with great pain and sadness that I had to say goodbye to my dear mother Sjoukje Kossmayer-Dijkstra. My mother and I were beautiful together until the end," she said via Facebook. Dijkstra, born in Friesland (January 28, 1942) - who was 82 - had been ill for some time.

In the long series of impressive victories, the Olympic gold in Innsbruck was a special prize, because until that moment no Dutch winter sports athlete had ever managed to win gold. That success followed two previous participations in the Winter Games. At the age of 14 she made her debut with a twelfth place in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Four years later, in 1960, she had to tolerate only the American Carol Heiss in Squaw Valley. Dijkstra, also crowned Europe's best figure skater five times, kept her cool at the next opportunity and took the title in the Olympia-Eisstadion in a field of thirty women from fourteen different countries.

Dijkstra's name was almost inextricably linked to that of Joan Haanappel, who died on February 24 of this year at the age of 83. Together they went to the Winter Games and other major tournaments as athletes, and after their careers they continued to work together for their beloved sport. Through the Netherlands Figure Skating Foundation, founded by Haanappel and passionately supported by Dijkstra, the talented Lindsay van Zundert was given the opportunity to develop in such a way that she was sent to the Beijing Winter Games in 2022. All things considered, that also felt a bit like a victory for the duo.



'Sjoukje always hoped to find a successor' by Leon de Kort (May 2):

Whether Sjoukje Dijkstra could figure skate a little? That was almost impossible to film. So good, so powerful, so convincing, and so successful. Sixty years ago she jumped, no, whirled in Innsbruck to the most appealing prize in her gold-polished career: the Olympic title. All in all, that made her immortal, despite the sad news of her death on May 2, 2024 in Someren, aged 82...

However, the Dijkstra name will live on, certainly in the extensive family of figure skating enthusiasts, followers and practitioners, all over the world. No doubt whatsoever. “That does not alter the fact that the KNSB has learned of the passing of this champion with great sadness,” says Herman de Haan, director of the skating association. “She won everything, besides Olympic gold: three world championships, five European titles and six times she was the best Dutch player. However, Sjoukje's name is mainly mentioned in the same breath as the first gold medal ever for a Dutch winter sports athlete at the Winter Games, in 1964. A unique achievement in a globally very important sport such as figure skating.”

De Haan also likes to point out the role model that Dijkstra, born in Akkrum, fulfilled. “Her brilliant performance made many children want to do figure skating too. Just like her training buddy and friend Joan Haanappel, who died earlier this year, Sjoukje was an example for new generations of figure skaters. With a lot of energy and passion, even after her active career, she continued to commit herself to the sport to which she had devoted her heart,” says De Haan.

“An icon for figure skating in the Netherlands, whose name sooner or later seeps into every generation,” says Niki Wories, figure skating discipline manager at the KNSB. The former driver laughs, thinking back to her last moment of contact with Dijkstra. “I spoke to her at the Challenge Cup in Tilburg (February 2024, ed.), where she simply did her word. What she said was correct down to the last letter, she was so up to date.”

“And tell us all what had to be done with the talents,” she continues. “Honestly, in a way that did not harm anyone. Because she came up with the comments, you believed it too. She enjoyed skating and what she saw on the rink. That passion and experience. She always hoped that she would one day have a successor. It is such a shame that within a few months two of those women have disappeared from our midst. Sjoukje and Joan, I learned those names from my mother at an early age.”

Then Wories remembers something else. “Sjoukje once took me aside. 'You know,' she said then, 'I've had enough moments of fame, I don't need any more of that. They are now for others. For the drivers. Beautiful. She wasn't standing there for herself. No, she was always really there for the skaters.”

Averse to frills, straightforward and therefore popular with fans: that's how it was during her active years. She returned from a successful performance abroad to find the airport black with supporters. Illustrative in this context was the ceremony two days after the Olympic title. All eighty men of the Amstelveen police, supplemented by ten military police, had to be deployed to keep the pushy fans at bay during the driving tour through her hometown of Amstelveen. The Netherlands experienced scenes that it had not experienced since the arrival of athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen in Amsterdam after her Olympic successes during the 1948 Games.

These were golden times for Sjoukje and her friend and competitor Joan, who was one year older, who traveled to the major tournaments together. Joan previously quit professional sports to focus on professional ice shows. Dijkstra later followed suit. “If necessary, I had to win some medals first,” Sjoukje said at her buddy's funeral.

She collected the entire repertoire of awards, was knighted and earned the oeuvre prize from NOC*NSF, and thanks to all the prizes, paved the way for Holiday on Ice for herself. In the meantime, she had met Karl Kossmayer, an animal trainer/entertainer who specialized in comedy acts with horses. These activities even spawned a circus, but it turned out not to last long. The daughters that Sjoukje and Karl had (Rosalie and Katja) followed somewhat in their footsteps: Rosalie tried her hand as a figure skater, while horses have become very important to Katja.

The unconditional friendship between Sjoukje and Joan was beautiful. The two called each other daily. With the help of Sjoukje, Joan founded the Netherlands Figure Skating Foundation, out of dissatisfaction with the fact that in their view the KNSB invested too little in figure skating. Sjoukje worked for the figure skating section of the KNSB for a short time as an advisor, Joan lasted a little longer as a member of the main board. After that period, both looked back on it with horror. They showed this every year when the annual prizes named after them were awarded. And then it was mainly Sjoukje who did not mince her words. Coffee with apple pie ladies? “Well, that's the first time we've received anything from the KNSB.”


When Sjoukje Dijkstra turned eighty in 2022, Schaatsen.nl spoke to her extensively about her special life. You can read that interview again here -
80 years of Sjoukje Dijkstra: The jumping queen on the ice by Margriet de Schutter (January 28, 2022):
 

Frau Muller

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Sjoukje Dijkstra’s first Worlds gold medal performance here, courtesy of the ISU:


What speed and power. And what delightful music! Those were the days!
 

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