Speed skaters train for Olympics at Pettit

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:16 pm

Several top speed skaters have been training at The Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The games will be held in Sochi, Russia from February 6 to 23. The athletes are currently competing in the long track Olympic trials in Salt Lake City, until January 1.

At that time, The Pettit expects many Olympic qualifiers to return to training in Milwaukee before heading to Sochi, said Kevin Butler, director of marketing.

Among those who train at Milwaukee’s Olympic training facility: Shani Davis, Trevor Marsicano, Jilleanne Rookard, Brian Hansen, Jonathan Kuck and Emery Lehman.

“We have probably five or six that will make the team that train here on a regular basis,” Butler said. “We’ve told them whatever they need, we’re here to support them.”

Most skate at the Pettit five days per week from 9 to 11:15 a.m. Their practices are open for free public viewing.

The Pettit is one of just two Olympic long track training facilities in the country. While the U.S. team is based in Salt Lake City, several athletes who live in the Midwest or who want to skate at sea level train in Milwaukee.

“Our overall goal is to be the best partners for U.S. Speed Skating as possible and to help them put people on the podium,” Butler said.

The Pettit, a nonprofit, tries to capitalize on the economic impact it sees in each competition year.

“During an Olympic year, the interest is obviously greater for skating and even just speed skating in general, and we hope that happens,” Butler said. “Generally speaking, you do see a bump.”

Under Armour and McDonald’s have used the Pettit for commercial shoots this year, he said.

The Pettit is also hosting a dinner on January 25 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the gold medal winning performances of Bonnie Blair Cruikshank and Dan Jansen in the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

Blair and Jansen will be in attendance for the fundraiser, which aims to bring in $20,000 to go toward the installation of a high-tech timing system for the rink, Butler said.

A MYLAPS system and new scoreboard will cost upward of $80,000, he said. The digital system will allow athletes to use a chip on their skates to electronically track their practice and competition times, which can be sent to a smartphone.

“This event would put a nice dent in that, and we’ve already gotten other support,” he said. “We’ve started the ball rolling.”

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