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History of the Zwaantjes Roller Club (ZRC)

2016/7/25 8:39:00

History of the Zwaantjes Roller Club (ZRC)
Zandevoorde, Belgium
The region of Vlaanderen (Flanders) in Belgium is well known for its canals, beautiful flat landscapes, and rich cultural heritage in art, music and architecture, but not many people outside of skating know it is also the home of one of the oldest speed roller skating clubs in the world.

The Zwaantjes Roller Club (ZRC) is centered in the village of Zandvoorde, near the Dutch speaking Belgian seaport town of Ostend (Oostende in Flemish and Dutch). Ostend is a fashionable summer resort town, and it is also a harbor for ferrys crossing to the English port of Dover.

The Club in 1962
The club was founded in 1962, when a youth organization from the Village of Zandvoorde was organizing an annual event, and decided to include roller skating. A club from Wetteren was asked to give a skating demonstration, and they held a small competition for the local youth. The event was very successful, and the local skaters decided to form a new speed roller skating club centered in the village of Zandvoorde.

The Club Today
This club is still going very strong today and it still organizes an annual speedskating event each year known as the Grote Prijs van Vlaanderen Inline Skating (Flanders Grand Prix of Inline Skating). This event lasts 3 days, it takes place on a banked speed skating track in the village of Zandvoorde, and the 2002 event was its 35th anniversary. The Grote Prijs van Vlaanderen, which started out as a small event to get the youth of Vlaanderen interested in skating, is now the largest international speedskating event in Belgium, and it welcomes athletes from all over Europe and the rest of the world.

Host of the World Championships
The ZRC has also organized several other international speed skating events in the last few years, including four European Championships and three World Championships. The most recent world champions in Belgium took place in 2002.

  • 1979 | European Championships - Senior
  • 1981 | World Senior Championships
  • 1987 | European Senior Championships
  • 1991 | World Senior Championships
  • 1995 | European Junior Championships
  • 1999 | European Senior and Junior Championships
  • 2002 | World Senior Championships
    The Village of Zandvoorde Supports the Club
    The Zandvoorde Roller Club believes that their greatest strength lies in the people of Zandvoorde Village, who view the club events as a boost to their community. The villagers are always willing to provide manpower and other types support whenever it is needed. The club events also receive a great deal of support from major and local politicians in the area, because tourism is very important to the City of Ostend.

    The State of Inline Skating in Belgium
    Inline skating in Belgium is still a small sport, and many skaters do not have a skating club in their area. Because there are so few clubs in Belgium, skating receives almost no press coverage, and it is difficult to find sponsors for skaters and events. The small number of clubs and the lack of press coverage also mean it is never easy for the club to get enough funding to support the lodging requirements of all the international athletes who participate in their events.

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