Milwaukee's Pettit Center to host 2018 long track speed skating Olympic Trials

Competition to be held 1 month before Winter Games
Posted at 11:29 AM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 09:19:55-04

The next U.S. Winter Olympics long track speed skating team will be determined in at the Pettit Center in West Allis, which will host the national speedskating trials for the first time in 19 years.

Two sources have told TODAY’S TMJ4’s Lance Allan that the Pettit Center will host the national speedskating trials on Jan. 2-7, 2018.

"I even get goose bumps just thinking about it," said former Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair Cruikshank.

Bonnie Blair Cruikshank said the announcement brings back incredible memories. The Olympic legend qualified for two Olympic Games out of West Allis.

“Living in the area, I know the excitement that it brings," she said.

Blair Cruikshank won five Olympic gold medals, yet these upcoming trials mean just as much as her daughter try to qualify.

"It's been very heartwarming for me," she said. “I think that will be a great stepping stone for her as she probably looks forward to the next Olympic Games after that”.

Recently, a majority of the speedskating Olympic trials have been held in Salt Lake City for the high elevation. Given that the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea will be at a lower altitude, the U.S. Speedskating committee decided to bring the trials back to the Pettit Center which is much closer to sea level at 617’.

"The ice just kind of feels different and it probably seems funny to people, but the ice is different," said Blair Cruikshank.

Leading up to January, Pettit Center crews will be working to replicate the conditions to what athletes will see in South Korea.

“The ice conditions, the temperature, the winds in here, the humidity,” said Pettit National Ice Center Executive Director Randy Dean.

The facility will also undergo changes in lighting, rink padding and new bleachers for up to 1,200 fans. West Allis residents said they are ready for the big event.

”You aren't going to get the Olympics here to Milwaukee, the time trials would be something to do," said Andrew Weins.

Fifty to 60 athletes are expected to compete in the event. Tickets will be available sometime this fall.


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