Wisconsin contributes to successful Olympic speed skaters Submitted: 02/10/2014
Story By Shardaa Gray

WEST ALLIS - Winter Olympics history tells us Americans can fly on ice.

Our nation's speed skaters have won more Olympic gold medals than skaters for
any other country.

Wisconsin plays a big part in this success story.

Newswatch 12's Shardaa Gray takes us to West Allis where the Spirit of the North
has driven speed skaters for decades.

"It hasn't really hit me yet, but once I'm there and getting into it and being
with the team; it will start to sink in." said America's youngest speed skater,
Emery Lehman.

17 year old Emery Lehman from Illinois is the youngest U.S. Olympic speed skater
this year.

90 years ago a young speed skater named Charles Jewtraw was the first person
ever to win a gold medal in the very first Winter Olympics.

Jewtraw won the 500 meter event in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

Emery isn't sure if he'll make history like Jewtraw, but he does have high hopes.

"My goals are probably to finish between 15th and 10th in the 5K," Emery said.

"Then 10K, only 16 skaters; probably I'm going in ranked like 16th. So anything
better than last at this point."

Before leaving for Sochi, Lehman trained at the Pettit National Ice Center in
West Allis.

He has been training there since he was 14 years old.

They've trained Olympians since 1992, after it was reconstructed to become an
indoor facility.

"The impetus behind it was to create an Olympic training site. So it had to open
by the end of 1992 for political reasons within the US speed skating," said
Pettit Ice Center Executive Director, Randy Dean.

"The USOOC had to be open by the end of 1992 to be an official US Olympic
training site."

The Pettit Center replaced the outdoor 24 year old Wisconsin Olympic Ice Rink.

"It was right here in this very site; almost not the exact place where the oval
is today, but very close. They'd tell stories of the salt blowing off the
expressway, the headwinds and how cold it was," Dean said.

"There wasn't any enclosed oval in the United States. So people got together
here and raised some money, got some help from the state and built the Pettit
Center here for about 14 million dollars."

85 speed skating medals have been won by American Olympians going into Sochi Games.

Out of that number, 70 medals were won by Olympians that trained or based at the
Pettit Center.

Emery's mom remembers when he first put on speed skating skates.

"They loaned him a pair of boats, he got on the ice, he looked at me I was
standing on the bleachers, kind of shrugged his shoulders looked down at his
boots and started to skate and he fell in love with it." said Emery's mother,
Marcia Lehman.

"He just had that intangible quality that you can see in some kids. It's like
you can't really teach it. Once you see it's there to be developed." Emery's
coach, Jeff Klaiber said.

"It's definitely paid off now. Traveling's a lot of fun and competing is a lot
of fun. It's all worth it in the end," said Emery.

"Especially because I love it, it's a lot easier. It's probably a lot harder for
my mom and dad who put in just as much dedication as I did, but they don't get
to travel as much."

Emery raced Friday; finishing 16th out of 26 races in the men's 5,000 meters,
the best finish by an American.

The 10K comes next Tuesday.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


VILAS COUNTY - An economic group in Vilas County can thank a local casino for a recent donation.

The Lake of the Torches Resort Casino presented members of the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation (VCEDC)with a $2,000 donation.

The donation happened earlier this month.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - Not everyone has time to go to the gym during the holiday season, but there still things you can do to stay active at home.

"While you're watching T.V., you can be on the ground doing sit-ups or planks –just anything," says Sheri Gaber, a fitness specialist at personal trainer at Tone Zone Fitness in Rhinelander. "Just keep moving. Keep that sedentary time down."

+ Read More

BLACKWELL - The Blackwell Job Corps Center in Forest County will celebrate its 50th anniversary next week. Students and staff will celebrate the occasion on Monday, November 30th.

They'll have a cake cutting ceremony at 3:00 p.m. The community is invited to join the students and staff in the recreation hall from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

+ Read More

MINOCQUA - Shops in downtown Minocqua want a new way to draw customers to their businesses. The restart of the Minocqua Island Business Association comes at a perfect time, with the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Those businesses want to team up to attract people to downtown Minocqua. It's a more specific mission than the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce.

+ Read More

ST. GERMAIN - Ringing in the holiday season can be a special time of year for families.

+ Read More

MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court says state troopers can stop motorists for littering.

The court ruled Wednesday in a case involving Daniel S. Iverson of Amery. Iverson was driving in La Crosse in 2014 when a state trooper pulled him over after he saw someone throw a cigarette out of the vehicle in violation of the state's littering law and cited Iverson for drunken driving.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Within a few months, Merrill Schools will officially protect transgender students under its nondiscrimination policy. Transgender students have received statewide attention lately—not for who they are, but for which bathroom they use.

Merrill is among the districts paying attention to the state conversation closely. Right now, Merrill expects its students to use the bathroom that matches the gender they declare during school registration.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here