- Speed Skating
Heather Richardson finds speed skating love
A lot has changed for Heather Richardson since the 2010 Olympics, including her marital status.
The 24-year-old American speed skater is engaged to Jorrit Bergsma, a 28-year-old long distance Dutch speed skater looking to make his first Olympic appearance in 2014.
Richardson says they met at a World Cup event in the 2012 season and started exchanging texts after she congratulated him on his performance.
“I was like, ‘so when are you taking me out to lunch?’” Richardson said. “I kind of forced it on him to hang out.”
They started hanging out together after every World Cup and kept in touch when they returned home. After the 2013 season, Bergsma met Richardson’s family and stayed at her house for a month. At that point, they had been together for over a year, and Bergsma decided to propose in April.
Bergsma, like a true old-school gentleman, had a romantic plan in mind and had already asked her father for her hand.
“We were in Myrtle Beach with my parents and they were actually in the room next to us, so we both had ocean view rooms,” Richardson said.
Bergsma went down to the beach and etched ‘will you marry me?’ me in the sand for Richardson and her parents to see.
“He actually took my phone down there with him and he actually called my mom right before he was about to do it so she was out on the balcony to see it as well,” Richardson said. “Then he was calling his phone that was still in our room and I’m like ‘why is his phone ringing? I don’t even know where he is right now’ and so he had to call like three times and I finally answered the phone like ‘uh hello’ and he was like ‘go to the balcony.’”
Bergsma then popped the question and the two are now engaged.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Photo lookback at speed skater Heather Richardson
Long distance relationships can be difficult, though, and it’s no different for Richardson and Bergsma.
“It’s really hard right now,” Richardson said.
Both Richardson and Bergsma are preparing for the World Cup qualifiers and the season that follows. The first World Cup event is in early November and the qualifiers are in late October.
“It’s been two months since I’ve seen him and I won’t see him for another month if we both qualify for World Cup teams,” Richardson said. “But I think it’s nice because we both understand our schedules and how important competing in the Olympics is to one another.”
And for this power couple, winning an Olympic medal is more than just a pipe dream.
Richardson stormed into the top tier of her sport this year after winning the World Sprint title and finishing first in the overall World Cup standings for the 1000m distance in 2013.
She finished ninth in the 1000m race in Vancouver and currently sits in first place in the overall World Cup standings for the 1000m.
Bergsma had an equally impressive season, finishing first in the overall World Cup standings for the 5000m and 10,000m distances in 2013. Bergsma kicked off his Sochi experience with a bronze medal in the 5000m and is a medal favorite in the 10,000m.
Come March, Bergsma and Richardson will have some time to unwind and plan their pending nuptials. They hope to have some gold to go with their wedding rings.