Lausanne, Switzerland


Merijn Scheperkamp (NED) ISU World Cup Speed Skating Heerenveen (NED) ISU 1442778502

Merijn Scheperkamp (NED) reacts during the ISU European Speed Skating Championships in Hamar (NOR) @ISU

After a breakthrough debut year, Merijn Scheperkamp (NED) blitzed to the international sprint elite in his second season at senior level. With the ISU European Sprint title in Hamar (NOR), the 22-year-old Dutchman won his career first major international title.

“And I hope to win many more,” he smiled afterwards.

At the ISU World Single Distance Championships in Heerenveen (NED) he finished fifth in a very competitive 500m field, and won a silver medal at the Team Sprint. 

Team Netherlands  ISU World Speed Skating Championships Heerenveen (NED) ISU 1470817149

Team Netherlands pose during the ISU World Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen (NED) @ISU

Steadiness and structure are key to his success.

Skating genes

Skating is part of Scheperkamp’s DNA. His father competed at the 1979 World Junior Championships in Grenoble (FRA), while his mother finished the famous 200km Eleven Cities Tour in Friesland (NED) back in the 1980s.

Family is important to the youngster from Hilversum (NED). After qualifying for the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) at the Dutch trials last season, he got a lot of media attention. It did not change his attitude.

“People can say and write whatever they think about me, but it’s my family and friends who know the real me. Those are the people I’ll listen to when it comes to good advice.”

After having won the ISU European Sprint title in Hamar (NOR), Scheperkamp’s mother and sister were among the first to celebrate with him alongside the track, while his father watched from a little distance.

Scheperkamp laughed:

“I’ve been skating all my life, I’m so glad I finally did it. My parents and my sister have always supported me big time. It was great to celebrate with them. My father is a bit more introvert, he looked from the stands, but he’s super proud.”

Team buddies

Even before Scheperkamp got a hug from his mother and sister after winning in Hamar (NOR), Jutta Leerdam (NED) congratulated him for his European title. His female teammate had just won the Women’s Sprint Championships herself.

Merijn Scheperkamp and Jutta Leerdam (NED) ISU European Speed Skating Championships Hamar (NOR) ISU 1454839089

Merijn Scheperkamp and Jutta Leerdam (NED) pose during the ISU European Speed Skating Championships in Hamar (NOR) @ISU

Leerdam joined coach Jac Orie’s skating team after winning silver at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN), while Scheperkamp was promoted from the development team to Orie’s Proteam. The two youngsters get along well, Scheperkamp said:

“We’ve got a similar mindset when it comes to training and how to approach our sport. We’re both very structured."

“She’s become a real buddy in the team. (As a top skater) you’re on the road a lot, so it’s good to have someone around to share personal stuff with and it’s great to be able to win here together.”

It’s not just Leerdam, who Scheperkamp enjoys hanging around with:

“We have a great team (Jac Orie’s Proteam) and I couldn’t wish for a better environment."

“We’ve got speed and stamina. For me as a sprinter it’s great to be able to train with the fast guys, like World Sprint Champion Thomas Krol, Dai Dai Ntab and Kai Verbij. When you’re the best in this team, you’re among the best in the world.

Olympic ambitions

When it comes to the best in the World, Scheperkamp realized that he is not there quite yet.

After winning the European title he said: 

"There’s four fast guys in Japan (Yuma Murakami, Wataru Morishige, Takuya Morimoto, Tatsuya Shinhama), Laurent Dubreuil from Canada, Kim Jun-Ho from Korea. The competition is tough and I think we all push each other to a higher level.”

And the Dutchman even forgot to mention Jordan Stolz (USA), who won the 500m, 1000m and 1500m at the ISU World Single Distance Championships.

Jordan Sotlz (USA) 2023 ISU World Championships Heerenveen (NED) ISU 1471025304

Jordan Sotlz (USA) celebrates during the 2023 ISU World Championships in Heerenveen (NED) @ISU

Scheperkamp has about two more years to catch up:

“For me the ultimate goal is Milan 2026. I hope to be able to compete for gold at the Olympic Games.”

Steadiness and structure

While Scheperkamp concentrates on Speed Skating, he’s also studying biology at the University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden (NED).

“I’m in my third year, but I think I’ll take five years (instead of the regular four) to graduate. I have to skate a little in between too,” he smiles.

Going forward both on and off the ice, Scheperkamp relies on a solid base. Steadiness was key to his European title, when he took three second places and one first over four distances, and structure is what gives him confidence.

He explains:

“It’s part of my upbringing. My mother always used to say: a clean house is a clean mind. When I arrive at a hotel room, I always make sure to put everything in place. Structure helps me not to get distracted by things from outside.”