Just hours after skeleton athlete Kimberly Bos won a historic Olympic medal for the Netherlands at the Beijing Winter Games, she’s back in her apartment. There she sat alone on her bed in the Olympic Village, in the Chinese midnight, bronze plaque in her hands. “It was so weird, what are you doing? I just started calling people and things.”
It wasn’t until her return to Holland that Boss noticed the impact of her performance. Then I realized how sympathetic people are in the Netherlands. Suddenly I was allowed to be on TV everywhere.” One of the highlights was meeting gymnast Ipke Zunderland – an Idol Boss who used to do gymnastics himself. “He asked me if I wanted to take a picture with him. Then I realized that this is something different than winning the World Cup or becoming European champions.
It’s been almost a year since Bos became the first Dutchman to win an Olympic medal in skiing on February 12, 2022. On a track that sways like a flying Chinese dragon, she started poorly, but managed to claw her way to third place in four runs. Leaping through the air in the bitter cold of Yanqing, she promptly picked up her medal next to the ice channel through which she had lunged downhill.
This week, Boss faces her next Grand Slam. On the natural ice rink in Sankt Moritz in the Swiss Alps, the skeleton owners will start their first two World Championship runs on Thursday. Boss is considered a favorite after finishing fourth at the European Championships. She always had a great time at the natural ice rink in Switzerland. “The descent from Sankt Moritz is very long, more than ten seconds longer than other descents,” says Boss. “You can therefore achieve very high speeds there. The more relaxed you are on the sled, the faster you can go. If there is one thing I am good at, it is relaxing on the sled. The intention is to get to the top speed there.”
A lot has changed in the past year, says the 29-year-old Boss just weeks before the World Cup. The Olympic bronze ushered in a special period filled with tributes, a visit to the king, invitations to lectures, and travels. She was allowed to go to South Korea for the opening of the Youth Olympic Games, and went to Greece for a meeting of the International Olympic Committee. She was also invited to tell the Tax and Customs Department how to deal with expectations and impressions from the outside world. “That’s a hot item there, with the complement issue. There are also people who work there who didn’t know they were going to have to stand up for their employer at a birthday party.”
Boss did not ski at that time. After the Games, most jobs were closed, and her schedule quickly filled up with other things. She didn’t ejaculate for the first time until the fall of 2022, after allowing herself her first summer break in years. “I think the last time was before the Games in Pyeongchang in 2018. Now I went to England with my boyfriend for a week in a carriage.”
It was also different that this year Boss already knew before that summer break that she would be able to continue her sport financially over the next four years. “That was nice. I’m used to the fact that it usually only comes in September or October, when the season is about to start.”
The financial picture also came faster than usual because Boss decided to team up with Australian Jacqueline Narracott, who took silver at the Games. “At first it was hard, but it’s getting better,” says Boss. “We are used to doing everything our own way. Josha [Le Conté, de coach van Bos en nu ook die van Narracott] And I discussed a lot in Dutch, of course Jacqueline didn’t understand that.
The big advantage is that the two can share information, on how best to get to a particular corner, for example. Boss: “The Germans always have a team of fifteen men with them, they can gather more information. Now we can help each other.”
However, the Olympic medal resulted in less financial gain for Boss than she thought. “I still rely on my A status from NOC-NSF.” Boss was hoping to find her a home this summer with some extra income and her number one sporting status. But with rents soaring and inflation becoming impossible, she still lives with her parents when in the Netherlands. “It’s a little frustrating. I wanted to get on my feet in that area. On the other hand, it’s also good. I traveled so much last year that I was only home for four months in total.”
Since this year, Boss is no longer the only Dutch skeleton player in the international context. You can talk cautiously about the “Kimberley Effect” now that eight skeleton runners—six men and two women—have joined since the summer, making their debut in continental competitions this winter. “They were picked this summer after the testing days and are getting a little better each week,” says Boss, who has acted as a source of information for the rookies and regularly gives them advice via the app. The new skeleton takes advantage of the fact that Bob and Sleebond Netherlands were able to find a sponsor for the first time this summer who wanted to commit to the sport throughout the next Olympic cycle.
“I think skeleton is a sport in which we Dutch, despite the lack of snow or mountains, can be good at it if we invest interest and money,” Bos says of her involvement with her successors. She thought it was a shame that all the knowledge and skills she had gained would be lost when she stopped. That is why Bos is pleased that plans for a new grandstand at the Papendal Sports Center are becoming more and more concrete. It should be built this spring, provided the appropriate licenses are obtained. “Unfortunately, we haven’t had a runway since 2018, and it would mean a lot to our sport if a new sport came along,” Bos says.
For example, the sport of skeletons seems to be taking shape in the Netherlands, all thanks to Boss’ lone medal in Beijing. “You can certainly say that, but I think it’s a very big honor,” she says with a laugh. “I didn’t do it on my own, without Joska I would never have succeeded.” But she says it’s fun. “I don’t have to explain my sport anymore. People now ask me how fast you are in my sport.” And I watched her during the World Cup in Winterberg, where there were more Dutch people on the track than Germans, all to cheer her on.
Boss wants to continue until the Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in 2026, she sees enough opportunities to become even better. “I’ve worked really hard on my body shape on the bobsleigh this year. I can get sloppy at times and then you lose a lot of aerodynamics. It just got a lot better.”
Most of all, she wants to enjoy her sport. Boss: “If you only do it for the sake of a goal, then you are not faster. In Beijing I was able to enjoy my run, not caring too much about the rest. I was also successful in Winterberg, where I won the World Cup race this year, and I hope to succeed again in world Cup “.
A version of this article also appeared in the January 26, 2023 Journal
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