MILWAUKEE — Carlijn Schoutens moved between the U.S. and Netherlands as a child.
Now, she’ll represent her birth country as an American Olympian.
The 22-year-old, who was born in New Jersey to Dutch parents, won the 3,000 meters at the U.S. speedskating trials on Tuesday, finishing in 4 minutes, 14.03 seconds to make her first Olympic team.
“It’s been a goal for a long time and to make it happen, it’s just unbelievable,” Schoutens said. “In the 3k, my main event, I’m really proud and happy.”
Schoutens finished 1.71 seconds ahead of the next-fastest skater, Mia Manganello at 4:15.74, to claim the only spot available on the team for next month’s Olympics in South Korea.
“I’ve been trying a couple different things this year, and the one that seems to work best for me is starting out pretty fast,” Schoutens said. “That was a great idea for this race, too, because it’s pretty hard to keep the speed, so the more speed at the beginning, the better you’ll be at the end. I’m happy I started fast and held on to it as long as I could.”
After skating for the Netherlands early in her career, Schoutens decided in 2014 to make the U.S. her home and compete for the Americans, though she still maintains friendships with the powerful Dutch.
“It’s always fun getting together and knowing each other from the past,” she said. “We’re all supportive of each other and it’s fun to compete.”
Petra Acker was third at 4:18.85. Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. finished fourth at 4:26.37.
The 3,000 was the first event of the trials, which run through Sunday.
The men’s 5,000 is later Tuesday at the Pettit National Ice Center, but there is no spot available on the Olympic team, so the winner will have to be satisfied with being crowned national champion.