The making of the KIA Speed Skating Academy

Silence areas in breeding ground
The making of the KIA Speed Skating Academy Saturday, January 29, 2011.

Barely six weeks before the opening, we make a snapshot of the long process towards a real skaters palace. Inzell is taking a nap this morning. The snow is feet high in the streets, the village looks like a postcard. Around the former hospital in the heart of Inzell everything and everyone seems in a coma. At the entrance stands a huge sign with a picture of Beixing Wang and the words: "We are building on the future of international speed skating."

But what is happening? No construction, shortly before the opening? Marnix Wieberdink opens the heavy wooden door to what should become the breeding ground for new successes in speed skating. This is the KIA Speed Skating Academy, future training ground for skating talent from less developed speed skating countries than the Netherlands.

Dust and debris still dominate the 99-year-old building which will be transformed into 'the place to be' for speed skaters. Sterile and solid the hospital must have been, with its wide stairs, its pale walls and clean linoleum on the floor. But you can see the change, the total transformation of efficiency and thoroughly to warm and adventurous.
Marnix gives a firm kick against a plaster paneling. What is he doing? "Strong, hey," is his only comment. It is not traditional plaster, because that would have crumbled into thousands of pieces immediately.

The initiator enjoys the look of his visitor. Another idea that seems to work. Plaster mixed with concrete, a powerful combination. Everything is idiot-proof, as Marnix puts it. "There will be people here from many countries. The guys fool around. Then you need a place which can withstand that. " Three floors and numerous rooms have been renovated. Above the panels, strong, wooden wall shelves will be placed. The color is still carefully deliberated about, because everything must be perfect. Of course, there are concerns, so shortly before the opening. Will everything be ready on time? In six weeks a lot of things need to be done. The walls should be wallpapered, the paneling needs to be painted and the 91 (!) fire detectors have yet to be placed. The doors need to be covered with sponsor logos, lamps need to be installed, the anti-asthma-carpet has to be established. "But first of all we need to clean out the dust," says Bauleiter Bernard Dufter. Where everybody panics, he keeps calm. "We have enough time. What must be ready, will be ready, " he says in the kitchen on the second floor. Also, this kitchen must disappear. This will be the Sportconfex room, but Bert van der Tuuk needs to wait a little to be allowed to sleep in his room. As the apartment of sprint coach and world record holder Jeremy Wotherspoon on the top floor will have to wait a little. First things first, the rooms for the skaters have priority.

Marnix leads us to other rooms. To the Aegon-room, which will get Aegon-style furnishings. The CLAFIS-room, overlooking the terrace. The building will soon be decorated in KIA-style on the outside, because Kia proudly wants to show that this will be the laboratory of future speed skating success. Inzell is the testing ground of the new KIA look, the old hospital will only be the third building in the world in this style. Heiko Götz walks around in the future kitchen, right next to the entrance. He shows where the sinks, refrigerators and gas burners will come, everything two cooks will soon need to make 60 to maybe even 200 guests a perfect meal every day. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner. "I do not need more than two days to install this kitchen," he says with self-assured look. "No worries!"

Next to the kitchen is the dining room. Again idiot-proof. Beautiful, charming and "old-look" furnishings, while everything is brand new. Beautiful blue benches, handmade by 't Capiton. It shows the craftsmanship. A friend who is TV-technician will get all the rooms digital TV signal. "Since the Chinese or the Hungarians want to look at their own channels." And behind the dining room you can find the living room, where all guests of the academy and can surf the internet, chat, drink coffee, read or play a game. The bedrooms are in fact to sleep or rest, not to hang around in the whole day. Because the bedrooms on the first and second floor will be part of the Auping Silence Area, named after the supplier of mattresses. Calmness should prevail here.

The living room has doors to the terrace, where the skaters can sit outside on sunny days. Aside from the living room, the sauna is situated, which will get the name of coach Janne Hänninen from Finland. It is not ready yet. That saunas can wait, has no priority and should come all the way from Finland. Maximilian Sailer, descendant of the ancient family that manages the Hofbräuhaus Traunstein, enters the KIA Speed Skating Academy. He carries a crate of beer with him which was chosen best beer in Europe in 2009. The Hofbräuhaus is the main supplier of the skating academy.

Sailer looks around and is impressed by the progress. He hands over a Lederhose of the Hofbräuhaus, which will be worn by Marnix Wieberdink, Jeremy Wotherspoon and all employees of the Kia Speed Skating Academy at the opening. Sailer flips the crown cap of a bottle of Helles beer. We should drink to that, a few weeks before the opening of a new attraction for Inzell, together with the ice rink.

The sleepy town will probably never be quiet again. Cheers!

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  • Group 4 Securicor
  • Clafis Engineering
  • X-Tend Craft
  • Aegon
  • Boukens Ice & Climate Solutions
  • Viking
  • Sportconfex
  • Allianz Nederland Groep N.V.
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