Olympic Medalist Carlijn Schoutens steps down from speedskating

April 08, 2019, 2:02 p.m. (ET)


After four years on the U.S. National Long Track Team, and after winning a 2018 Olympic bronze medal in the Team Pursuit in PyeongChang, Dutch-American skater Carlijn Schoutens has decided to retire from the sport to pursue a career as a medical doctor.

The decision was difficult for the 24-year-old Olympian who is a student at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Carlijn studied medicine remotely for more than three years, but to complete her education, she will have to return to the Netherlands for now.

“I feel like I’m walking away from the sport pretty young,” she said, “but I’ve made my peace with that because there’s something else I really want to do. I’m happy with what I’ve done as a skater. I got a lot more out of it than I ever thought I would.”

After making her first World Cup team in the 2014 season, she got selected for the National Team but a concussion in 2015 left her sidelined for the season.

“There are so many things in skating you can’t control but I always tried to work hard and keep learning. I love the sport, and I did it for the sake of skating and to find out how good I could be.”

Carlijn credits USS National Head Coach Tom Cushman as being instrumental in her speedskating success. “He understands me really well. He always figured out what I needed and it was great to skate under him.”

The highlight of Carlijn’s career came at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, where she skated the 3000m and 5000m events, and the Team Pursuit. The bronze medal she and her teammates earned in the Team Pursuit was the icing on the cake.

“Representing our country in the long distances was important to me. It’s still amazing to me that we accomplished that together and that we get to enjoy that for the rest of our lives.”

Carlijn has a little more than two years left of her education before she’ll decide on a medical discipline. She’s leaning toward orthopedics but says she’s excited to explore other options. She will continue to serve on the USS Athletes’ Advisory Council and hopes her experiences will help new skaters coming onto the team.

“Everyone here has wanted me to have success and worked hard for that,” she says. “I hope I can help give other athletes that same opportunity. Skaters can reach out to me if I can help in any way. I’ll be cheering them on. I’ve loved my time skating. I’m leaving with no regrets.”