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


Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Here in Northern Wisconsin, you can find Christmas trees just about anywhere you look.

Other parts of the country aren't so lucky.

That's why a forestry and real estate consulting company in Tomahawk sends the perfect pines, spruces, and firs to those who really need them.

+ Read More

Play Video

ANTIGO - As successful hunters look to fill their freezers with venison, they often don't have a use for the deer's heart. But donating that heart can be a big help to an area rehab center.

+ Read More

Play Video

MOSINEE - This past week, hunters took the time to head out in the woods, sit in their tree stands, and wait for a buck to come their way.

But not everyone plays by the rules.

Every year, wildlife officers work hard to catch deer poachers.

+ Read More

THREE LAKES - In many communities, it doesn't feel like the holidays without first lighting a tree. In Three Lakes Friday, that meant more than 3,000 lights on a 95-foot tree.

The tree-lighting ceremony was a part of the 21st Festival of Lights. You could also find Santa and Mrs. Claus among the crowd.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - People deposited more than just money at a Rhinelander bank Friday morning.  A blood drive at People's State Bank allowed donors to double down on what they gave.

Nurses from the Community Blood Center took donations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the "Give a Pint, Give a Pound" blood drive.  For every pint donated, the Blood Center will give a pound of food to the Lakeland Food Pantry.

+ Read More

A Republican legislator has introduced a bill that would require drivers who lack valid licenses to immediately surrender their vehicles to police.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin began circulating the proposal for co-sponsors on Tuesday. He said in a memo to his fellow lawmakers that the measure would keep dangerous and irresponsible motorists off the road.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Many people share a meal and conversation with family and friends on Thanksgiving, but some people could miss out if they have to work or don't have family nearby. 

To help out people who are in that situation, North Country Vineyard and Grace Foursquare Churches delivered free Thanksgiving meals Thursday.

Volunteers packaged meals Thursday morning and started delivering them around noon.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here