With a remarkable history and singular Olympic heritage, the Pettit National Ice Center is synonymous with speed skating excellence. Yet, anyone who wants to strap on a pair of ice skates can, during one of the many public skating sessions at the Center, may skate on the same Oval as past, current, and future U. S. Olympic champions, even fantasizing about her or his own medal winning race while crouched at the starting line.
Speed Skating History
People have always sought efficient ways to do things. Speed skating is a human’s fastest means of travel without mechanical aid or gravity. The sport’s first steel blade was produced in Philadelphia, PA, in 1850. This marked the beginning of modern skating and cleared the way for today’s skaters.
Even prior to the opening in 1967 of the outdoor Olympic Ice Rink at Wisconsin State Fair Park, Milwaukee has served as the center of speed skating in the United States. The outdoor Oval helped to raise the profile nationally of speed skating, attract and inspire determined and talented athletes, and eventually led to the construction of the enclosed Oval of Pettit National Ice Center which opened in 1992.
Wisconsin speed skaters have been a strong, impressive contributor to the Olympic effort. At least one speed skater from Wisconsin has been on each winter U.S. Olympic Team since 1932. A substantial percentage of the U.S. medals won in the Olympic Winter Games are speedskating medals. Plus, an overwhelming majority of those speed skating medals have been won by speed skaters who trained and/or competed at the Pettit Center. The Pettit Center serves an essential role for U.S. Speedskating, providing a premiere venue for the training and development for U.S. National team members in both long and short track speed skating, while offering introductory, instructional, and competitive programming for those motivated to pursue Olympic dreams.
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