In a first for a British long track skater, Cornelius Kersten has been signed by long track speed skating Team Worldstream.
Speaking from a training camp in Bormio, Italy, the British record holder described how joining the Dutch team could not have come at a better time.
“This is the season where everything has to go right, needs to go right, so it’s great that everything is coming together. It’s the perfect situation and I’m extremely excited about it.”
Joining such a prestigious setup will take away a huge amount of pressure throughout the year. Whereas previously the reality of training and competing involved organising everything from accommodation to training partners, Kersten can now focus entirely on his skating.
“It takes away a lot of stress with a team around me and makes everything a lot easier. It means I can put a lot more energy into just skating. One of the biggest benefits for me is that I’ll have people to train with at international events.”
His selection came after a stunning performance at the World Championships, finishing 11th in a highly competitive field. He also picked up a World Cup gold medal in an extended event held in a covid-secure bubble. The three week schedule included two World Cups and the World Championships. The result, due to a severely disrupted year thanks to the pandemic, was anything but a certainty for even Kersten himself.
"I hadn’t raced for almost a year, and training properly only really started a couple of months before the Worlds. I hadn’t been training with people before the bubble, so I had no idea how good, or bad, I was at that point. Not knowing where your baseline is does make you a little insecure, so coming 11th was the perfect way to end the season. Going into next season with that confidence is a huge bonus.”
Looking forward to a season that will include the opportunity to qualify for the Beijing Olympic games, being part of Team Worldstream has opened up access to the right facilities and people to train with. You can sense the excitement as the 26-year-old describes how every week he "feels stronger" after just a short time with the team.
“I’ve been finding out more of my weaknesses, so that’s more I can work on towards the winter. It’s a process I really enjoy, finding out what you’re not good at, fine tuning that and feeling yourself get better and better. Overcoming those steps and experience that growth. Getting a bit better every session, every week.”
The reality for the year ahead was summed up with a wry smile by Kersten: “all I need to do right now is skate as fast as is humanly possible”.