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Tiffany Chung

20 Nov 2020

Text by Tiffany Chung

ØLÅF CITIZENS: SUZANNE SCHULTING

20 Nov 2020

In this episode of Citizens we talk to Suzanne Schulting. Not only is Suzanne an Olympic gold medalist, world champion, European champion and 2018 Dutch Sportswoman of the Year, she’s managed to achieve it all before the age of 20. Ambitious and unstoppable, the now 23-year-old speed skater talks to us about life as an elite athlete and her goals for the future, making it clear that she’s far from the finish line.

 

You’ve achieved so much at such a young age, what’s your next goal?

“The next goal is the World Championship this year in Rotterdam. So yeah, I want to become world champion because it’s for the home crowd. I don’t think there will be any crowd because of Coronavirus but still I really want to become world champion. Also because last year in March our World Champs got canceled because of the virus. So yeah, I want to be world champion again and the year after Olympic champion in at least one distance, maybe more. Maybe two gold medals or three gold medals. At least one."

 

What drives you to keep going?

“What really drives me is the gold. The feeling of winning the gold medal is the best thing ever. You train so hard the whole summer just for the feeling of crossing the finish line first. I scream my guts out when I win. That feeling really keeps me motivated and it’s like a drug. You want more and more and more."

 

 

This year must’ve affected your training.

“Yeah, it's all different. Normally, we get rest or go to camp or something like that. At this period right now, I would be in Calgary for 3 to 4 weeks for competition and enjoying the nice weather. But now we're in Holland and it's raining. I miss traveling and being abroad. But that’s the way it is."

 

What do you miss about traveling?

“In the winter, we start traveling the first part of the season. October, November we always travel to America or Canada. End of November or beginning of December, we’re always in Asia like Korea, Shanghai, or somewhere in Japan. That’s 3 weeks abroad. After that, we stay in Europe. We do training camps and competitions. I miss the competition. That’s why we travel, we’re there to race. They help us stay motivated because we have a reason to train. There’s a goal."

 

Are you based in Amsterdam?

“No, I’m based in Heerenveen. A really small village in the north of Holland. It’s like a 75 to 90 minute drive away from Amsterdam. I’m also from this part of Holland. I’m from the north, but my boyfriend lives in Amsterdam so I’m there a lot."

 

Keep yourself hydrated.

 

You’ve been speed skating since you were 8-years-old. How did you discover the sport?

“Well, my parents live in the middle of nowhere with little canals around their house. So, they were like, ‘okay, if it's frozen in the winter you can do some speed skating’, and that’s how I learned to speed skate. That’s where it all started."

 

Did you love it right away?

“First, my mom took me to see what kind of skating I wanted to do — speed skating, ice hockey, figure skating. So, for my first year of skating I did figure skating but I hated it because it was so boring and I wanted to do something different. All my friends from my village did speed skating so I did that instead."

 

Le Bourg-D'oisans.

 

 

What’s a training day like for you?

“I wake up in the morning around 8. I go to the arena around 8:45. Start doing my warm up, sharpen my skates, and then I will be on the ice around 9:45 until 11:15 or 11:30. Then I go home, make my lunch, eat my lunch, maybe take a nap. Just chill. I go back to the arena to do weights or some cycling from 3 to 5. Then, I go home and eat at my parents place or make dinner for myself and my boyfriend. So, that's my day and that’s 6 days a week."

 

What do you do on the 7th day?

“On Sunday, I always rest. I watch television or sports, or maybe go drink coffee somewhere or go out for dinner in the evening. Just really chill."

 

 

On the days when you feel off or your performance isn’t as good as it should be, how do you deal with that?

“Yeah, that's hard. Sometimes you feel that you just don't have the legs to win. But you have to reorganize your race and come up with a different strategy or adjust it. And you have to believe in yourself, it’s the most important thing."

 

What was it like to meet the other athletes at the Olympics?

“I was really impressed the first time I went to the Olympic village. You eat all together in a big venue and see all the other countries and athletes like Lindsay Vonn, the super famous skier. It’s super cool to see all the different kinds of sports and all the athletes working towards the same goal."

 

How did it feel to represent your country?

“I feel really honored actually because in Holland it’s all about speed skating. It’s really a big thing. It’s really nice to skate in the suit and have the orange helmet. It feels really good to represent such a small country."

 

The orange helmet.

In the clouds.

 

Do you have any competition rituals or anything that you keep with you for luck?

“No. You have a routine in your warm up, but I’m not kissing something for luck or anything like that. I know some athletes have little things like always wearing the same underwear, but I don’t have anything."

I like boyfriend jeans and really love sweaters.
Are you more comfortable in skates or shoes?

“I’m the most comfortable in skates because I really know what I’m doing. I’m really in the zone. I feel the most confident when I’m wearing my skates and my suit because I know I’m the best at doing what I’m doing in the moment. When I’m in my shoes I’m also confident because I really have my own taste."

 

What is your taste off the ice?

“It really depends. I really like clothes that aren’t too tight. Loose fit. I like boyfriend jeans and really love sweaters. I’m just living in sweaters. Sometimes I like hipster style too. I also love a really beautiful dress for a special night out. But most of the time, it’s all laid back and not too complicated. Just a nice sweater and boyfriend jeans and I’m a really happy person. Oh, and Dr. Martens too."

 

You probably get asked a lot of the same questions in interviews. What’s something people might not know about you already?

“Ooo. Well, I play piano. It’s funny because most athletes don’t know that I play piano. Most of the time I’m a really busy person, like, I react to everything and everybody. So, when I’m just sitting there and playing piano, people are surprised when they see me and say it doesn’t fit me. I also like to party. I really like to party but we can only do it at the end of the season."

 

IN THE ZONE.

 

When you meet younger athletes what do you say to inspire them?

“The most important thing is to stay focused. Don’t get distracted by side things.The only thing that matters is skating. All the press and photoshoots, of course it's nice and fun, but it's all about skating. The only thing that can really make you happy is skating a good race or earning a medal."

 

What do you find inspirational yourself?

“I’m really inspired by athletes who become legends in their sport. That’s my inspiration, I want to achieve the same. To become a legend because I have so many medals. I want to be legendary. That would be really nice."

Tiffany Chung

23 May 2022

Text by Tiffany Chung

ØLÅF CITIZENS : Virgil nicholas

23 May 2022

With honesty, well-being, and respect for oneself and each other as the foundation of Danish shoe brand, Vinny’s shoes, Virgil Nicholas has founded a shoe company with real soul. In this edition of Citizens, we step into the creative director’s classic leather loafers and discover more about his work, style, and way of life.

 

Hi Virgil, why loafers?

“Good question. I've always worn loafers and compared to all the other types of footwear in my wardrobe, they‘re the one pair of shoes that I wear to death. A couple of years ago, just before starting Vinny’s, I was looking at my rotation of the same four to five shoes I wore over and over and noticed I was missing that perfect loafer. I realized that's where I have a genuine heritage and story to tell, so it made sense that I bring that to the table myself."

 

How should one feel when wearing a pair of Vinny’s?

“I think the loafer, for me, is like when you put on a blazer jacket. It shapes you as a person, your back gets a little bit more upright and you carry yourself a bit more elegantly. Loafers do the same thing. I want both men and women to feel comfortable, relaxed, well-dressed, and feeling confident. I think when we feel our very best, we're better humans to ourselves and to our neighbors and next of kin. So, it's really about building self-respect."

Still from podcast.

From interview with Illum.

 

Is that what makes you feel confident?

“A good pair of loafers, yeah. I think one of my confidence boosters is definitely always a good outfit."

 

Do you think good taste is something you’re born with, or can it be developed?

“I think style and taste is definitely something that you can learn. It’s about what you're interested in, what you’re exposed to and influenced by. It's definitely something that you can adapt and grow into and out of. Personally, the influences from my mom and my dad and their post-colonial heritage, my African heritage, but also the urban references from when I was a kid, shaped my wardrobe. I always go to the same things. I have pieces in my wardrobe that go ten years back and it's the stuff that I love to wear the most. Then, occasionally you add new things."

 

With Silas Oda Adler.

 

What are your tips for someone who is developing their own style?

“It starts with knowing who you are. A fashionable look or outfit can sometimes become a way to dress yourself up or to hide who you are, whereas style is about what we actually like and what you can see yourself wearing over and over again that resembles you. Also, read about pieces, find out how the penny loafer came about, the history of the slip dress, or research style icons. What makes hairstyles iconic today? Why do we like 90s fashion so much right now? Why's airport style interesting? I know a lot of men that research trends and decades and fashion and it's really been a way of shaping who they are. I've done the same, more from a research and creative perspective but it definitely helps me to also keep my own style universe sharp."

 

Who's your style icon?

“My dad. He always inspired me a lot."

With kiddo.

Vinny's.

 

Do you hope to be a style icon for your son?

“He already dresses way better than me. I think he already passed me. I just want to be a good role model, that's the most important thing for me."

 

Has becoming a father changed the way you work?

Only that I have to leave work a little bit early. I love to work, so that's why I hate having to leave work early. When he sleeps, I really love to work. Especially when I get to live out my dream. I'm so blessed and lucky that he loves coming into work with me. He's an open-minded kid and really at ease around my colleagues. I can bring him anywhere and that really makes my workflow a whole lot better.

 

At parelstudios.

On the road.

 

What’s your favorite place to work?

“We got our office four months ago and we have a red couch that I love sitting on. The most amazing thing is that our office is an old apartment, so we wanted to create a homey feeling. It's always hard to leave the office which is a good sign of a good workplace, at least for myself."

 

Where do you like to relax?

“Benches in my city. I love just sitting there and people watching. Not having any plans or any distractions, just a good pair of sunglasses to watch people. If you see me on a bench, you know what I'm doing. It’s the most relaxing thing ever."

 

As a successful creative, you’ve had a lot of great ideas. Tell us about your worst idea.

“My worst idea? Ha, that’s a good one. I don’t know, I’ve had a few. There was this one project, it was right after I started my first label, I wanted to create something that was more urban. So, we started making baseball t-shirts and the execution was good, but the name was horrible – it was a combination of three French words. I speak French with my parents, so it’s a big part of me and almost everything I do creatively starts with French. We actually got a lot of traction in France, but no one understood what we were trying to say. It was just the most horrible thing I've done. We had to shut it down quite quickly for numerous reasons but mostly the name was just a killer."

 

Name one thing you hope to get better at.

“I'm always on the go, always thinking about the next step, the next collection, the next campaign, am I picking up my son? I think what I need to be better at is enjoying the present. Enjoying the moment with people that are really dear to me. The thing I really value the most in my life are my relationships. It’s easy to make up an excuse not to meet up or make time for family and friends, but if it matters, then you need to remember to prioritize them. Time flies so fast."

 

Counting blessings.

 

Tell us something you hate to do but have to.

Every month, I have to go through all my expenses and find all my receipts. It’s a work thing that I hate to do. I try to be really good at it, but I hate it.

 

And something you love to do but rarely get to.

I love to read and listen to audiobooks. I hate that I don't have or take the time to do it enough.

 

Do you have a favorite book?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Love it. It was really a kickstarter for how I started to believe in myself and knowing that anything you set your mind to is possible.

 

What's one song you listen to on repeat?

Gold by Prince. I saw him perform it live at a festival here in Denmark. It was a crazy experience.

 

Young Virgil.

 

Lastly, name a person, place, and thing that inspires you.

One of the places that inspires me a lot is Marrakech. I like it because it's a place where I always calm down, but I also see so much culture and so much honesty and genuineness in the population. I think, in general, Africa is fun because it's very true to its roots.

 

For people, I've always been a huge fan of, it’s so cliché, but Denzel Washington. I love that guy mainly because he's really talented and he can wear a lot of hats, so to speak. His body of work combined with who he is as a person, from what he says, how he thinks, how he operates, and his composure is inspirational.

 

I'm really inspired by tech and how it creates communities. For example, who would have thought even just ten years ago that there would be a car service where you can drive awesome cars without taking anything but your mobile device, logging in, driving it, then leaving it to share with another human being? It’s stuff like that, the whole shared economy in tech, I think is fantastic. It's about being helpful to each other. If the shared economy in tech could be integrated with fashion in a mainstream way, not just in the niches where it is right now, it would definitely be game-changing for the whole world.