Hans van Helden

Hans van Helden

Hans van Helden in 1975
Personal information
Nationality Dutch
Born (1948-04-27) 27 April 1948
Almkerk, the Netherlands
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 75 kg (165 lb)
Country Netherlands
Sport Speed skating
Club CEPG, Paris
Turned pro 1973
Coached by Frank Sverre Furuset, Marie-France Van Helden
Retired 1988
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 500 m: 39.08 (1988)
1000 m: 1:16.32 (1988)
1500 m: 1:55.61 (1976)
3000 m: 4:08.11 (1984)
5000 m: 6:57.69 (1988)
10 000 m: 14:34.88 (1988)

Hans van Helden (born 27 April 1948) is a former speed skater, originally competing for the Netherlands, later for France.

Life and career

Hans van Helden with physical trainer Henk Gemser in 1975
Hans van Helden in 1977

Despite being a very talented speed skater and having an excellent skating style and technique, Van Helden never managed to win any major international tournaments. However, he did become Dutch Allround Champion twice (1976 and 1977) and he did break two world records. Being the then-current world record holder on the 5,000 m, he "only" finished 3rd on that distance during the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, possibly because the ice was in much worse condition during his race than it was when his major rivals (Sten Stensen and Piet Kleine) ran theirs.

In Dutch skating, Van Helden was known as an enfant terrible. His clashes with fellow Dutch skaters, his being fed up with fighting the KNSB (Koninklijke Nederlandsche Schaatsenrijders Bond – the Royal Dutch Skaters Federation), and (in 1980) his marriage to a French skater (Marie-France Vives), led to his naturalisation to French citizenship in December 1981. As a Frenchman, having very little competition from other French skaters, he had no problems qualifying for skating events. This also resulted in a long career as a speed skater and he participated in international competitions until he was 40.[1]

One of his most memorable feats was finishing 4th on the 1,500 m during the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, aged 35, and well ahead of his former compatriots, Dutchmen Hilbert van der Duim, Frits Schalij, and Hein Vergeer.[1]


World records

Over the course of his career, Van Helden skated two world records:

5000 m7.07,8230 January 1976 Davos
1500 m1.55,6113 March 1976 Inzell

Source: SpeedSkatingStats.com[2]

Personal records

To put these personal records in perspective, the last column (WR) lists the official world records on the dates that Van Helden skated his personal records.

500 m39.0 5 January 1986Davos36.57
1,000 m1:16.3218 February 1988Calgary1:12.58
1,500 m1:55.6113 March 1976Inzell1:58.7 
3,000 m4:08.118 March 1984Inzell4:04.06
5,000 m6:57.6917 February 1988Calgary6:43.59
10,000 m14:34.8421 February 1988Calgary13:48.51
Big combination165.3856 March 1988Medeo159.356

Van Helden was number one on the Adelskalender, the all-time allround speed skating ranking, from 13 March 1976 to 25 December 1976 – a total of 287 days. He has an Adelskalender score of 163.047 points.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hans van Helden.
  1. 1 2 Hans van Helden. sports-reference.com
  2. "Hans van Helden". SpeedSkatingStats.com. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
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