Figurehead Leerdam builds a new base in Jumbo as a skater, a brand, and a person

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  • Ghost Smedema

    NOS Sport Editor

  • Ghost Smedema

    NOS Sport Editor

When Jutta Leerdam wears Jumbo-Visma’s black and yellow outfit, she feels as if she’s been training in it for years. “I got used to it very quickly. When I see that suit, I think it belongs to me.”

Last summer, Leerdam made the switch from Worldstream, which she founded herself, to Jac Ories Jumbo-Visma. Transmission describes it as smooth. “I have a lot of fun with everyone and click with Jack. It feels so natural and good.”

But sometimes Leerdam looks around when a training session starts off hard. “Then I say, ‘Okay, my God, when do we start? And then nobody says anything,'” she seemed surprised.

take the role

The men on the enemy team hear it from the only woman in their midst. “Merijn (Scheperkamp, ​​ed.), are you the leader?” Leerdam asks defiantly. Or you think: Thomas (Kroll, editor), you’re an Olympic champion, take the lead.”

“It just needs a little seasoning now and then, but I also don’t want to be the one to say ‘let’s go, we’re going here or there.’ I’m naturally the leader type, but I’m the only woman on the men’s sprint team. If I feel like That I can take on the role, I will, but not yet.”

Watch Robbert de Rijk’s report with Leerdam from South German Inzell below:

Leerdam: Last year my life looked completely different than now

It’s also a big shift. From the hub and panel of her own team to the search for a role and position in an existing group. At Worldstream, all attention is focused on her. And so all the pressure fell on Leerdam’s shoulders.

“If we needed another sponsor, I was literally told: you have to perform equally at the beginning of the season, otherwise there will be no new sponsor and we will run into a budget deficit. But then it went well. So I know: with I can also perform well under pressure, which gave me confidence.”

freedom to develop

In the spring of 2020, she left Rigburg with her then-boyfriend Quinn Ferry, after winning the world title in the 1000m.

A leap of faith, but one that brought her so much. “If I hadn’t done that, if I hadn’t made my own team, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’ve changed a lot in my career and I’ve learned a lot from it.”

At Jumbo-Visma, you want to take the next step, in all areas of the Trinity that you define. “I have the freedom here to develop myself as a brand, as a person and as a skater.”

Since his first World Cup title, Leerdam has been on top of the world on ice. She took silver in the 1000m in February of this year and then also became the world sprint champion. Jumbo actually contacted her during the games, and the transition was a reality at the end of April.

“They were excited about me as a skater and still saw a lot of potential. After the first training sessions and tests, Jack said, ‘I think there’s a lot more than I thought. It’s good that they have that confidence, then you can just get harder.”

Sports and commercial

From a sporting point of view, Leerdam was so fast with the Orie, it just took a little longer before all the trade points were put on the i’s.

It was important for Leerdam to be able to continue to define herself, as she has done on Instagram in recent years, who now has 3.3 million followers. And as one of the faces of the fashion house Dior.

She sees the fact that she was brought to Jumbo-Visma as a comic character at the age of 23 due to this commercial value as a “cool win-win situation”.

“I’m not just a skater, I can also bring something else with me. I don’t see that as extra pressure or something negative. They see added value in me, in different areas. I can also skate hard, that’s my center.”

“Just a compliment, right?”

All the extra attention she gets, which she gives to her followers on social media, is not a distraction. “Of course I’m always under pressure from the public, the media, and the people around me. But I also put a lot of pressure on myself, so I’m strict with myself anyway. I can handle that.”

She enjoys seeing more and more girls and women with her signature black eyeliner. “Just a compliment, right?”

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Gotta Leerdam

There was also media attention last summer when her relationship with Verwig ended. “Someone said, ‘You have the advantages of the media, and then you also have to experience the disadvantages. I see that a little bit now, but I don’t see it as a huge disadvantage.'”

Starting a ski season without Verweij by her side is “a lot of getting used to and being different”. “He has given me a lot of confidence, he has always been very good in my career.”

A new base must be built

Although she still feels at home in Jumbo, it isn’t always easy. “My base is completely gone and I have to build a new one. I am very happy often, but I also have difficult moments now and then. My life last year looked very different than it does now. You have a new team and not the relationship you used to share everything with her “.

“But I focus on letting it all come out of myself. All the changes have brought me to who I am. There will be changes, but I always want to get back into myself. I’m driving fast and that’s because of me. That must be the ultimate feeling.”

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