The daughter of speed skater Lou Dijkstra, Sjoukje Dijkstra started skating at age 6, and was quickly discovered as a figure skating talent. She finished fourth at the Dutch championships of 1953, just weeks short of her 11th birthday, and qualified for her first European Championships the following year. Coached by Arnold Gerschwiler (uncle of Olympian Hans Gerschwiler) she started her climb up the ranks, together with the slightly older Joan Haanappel. She first medalled internationally in 1959 (European silver and World bronze), and won the European title the next year. At her second Olympics, she was a medal favorite, but no match for Carol Heiss who took the title. From then on, Dijkstra’s dominated women’s figure skating. She won all European Championships between 1960 and 1964, and all World Championships between 1962 and 1964. She crowned her career by winning the gold medal at Innsbruck, cheered on by the Dutch royal family. She joined Holiday on Ice later that year, and toured with them for eight years.