Carlijn Schoutens left the Netherlands for the United States to facilitate her chances of qualifying for the Olympics. The move paid off for Schoutens when she was named to the U.S. Olympic speed skating team for PyeongChang.
Speed skating beginnings
Schoutens was born in New Jersey in 1994 when her parents, who are Dutch, were temporarily in the U.S. to attend university. When she was 7 months old, Schoutens returned with her family to the Netherlands. In 2001, the Schoutens returned to the States to live in Virginia for a year. During this time, Schoutens attended an American school, learned English, and started playing American soccer.
When she returned to the Netherlands, she switched to speed skating because her local soccer club only allowed boys.
Schoutens enrolled in college in the Netherlands after a few seasons of sub-par results. At 19 years old she decided she wanted to dedicate herself full-time to skating. This prompted her to look at different teams before ultimately moving to Salt Lake City with the support of U.S. Speedskating. Initially, her plan was to stay in the U.S. for a year before returning to school in the Netherlands, but her quick success changed things.
Since making the move stateside Schoutens’ career has taken off. In 2014, she made her first World Cup team after winning gold, silver, and bronze at the National Championships. This success prompted her to set her sights on the Olympics.
Schoutens won the 3000m and the 5000m races at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
In September 2015, Schoutens fell during practice and hit her head on the ice, leaving her with a concussion. This forced her to end her season early and it was not until the summer of 2016 that she was fully recovered.
Her best result on the 2017-18 World Cup circuit came in her home country as she finished fourth in the 3000m B at Heerenveen.
The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be Schoutens’ first games.
Despite having spent most of her life in the speed skating hotbed of the Netherlands, Schoutens always felt a connection to country where she was born.
“I think there’s always a special bond and feeling if you’re born in that country,” Schoutens said to teamusa.org. “To be an American always gives me that pride, and I wanted to spend more time here when I could. As I got done with high school and some college in the Netherlands, I was ready to take that step again and go back to where I was born and spend more time in America.”
“I want to have the best races of my life and leave the ice knowing that I could not possibly have gone any faster,” Schoutens on her Olympic goals.
Off the ice
Schoutens plans on becoming a doctor with a possible emphasis on sports medicine after completing her speed skating career.
In her free time, she enjoys playing board and card games, as well as listening to her favorite band R.E.M. Schoutens also plays the violin.
She considers fellow speed skaters Shani Davis and Eric Heiden her sports idols.
Dan Jansen’s gold medal race in the 1000m at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics is a source of inspiration for Schoutens.