While all eyes in the long-track speed skating world are on Milwaukee for the Olympic Trials, Paul Golomski’s will be focused on the ice rather than the competitors.
Golomski is the Pettit National Ice Center’s Facility Director. He wears plenty of hats, but his main role this week is making the ice as fast as possible.
“It’s critical. What we’re looking to do here is mimic conditions as best as we can to what skaters might expect in South Korea,” Golomski said.
Golomski is a Milwaukee native whose whole life has revolved around the rink. His love for hockey as a kid turned into a career at the Pettit Center. He’s making the ice for the USA Long-Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials.
“I’ve been in the ice making industry for 18 years,” he said.
As more than 70 of the fastest speedskaters in the country vie for 16 spots in the 2018 Winter Olympics, Golomski will spend dozens of hours on the ice and behind the scenes in the refrigeration plant to make sure it’s thin and hard for the best glide.
“Right now it’s about three-quarters of an inch thick,” Golomski said.
Golomski says ice conditions are just one piece to the puzzle. There's plenty of science that goes into the equation of balancing premiere ice, air and humidity for the event.
“Air temperature is critical is speed skating too,” he said. “It’s kind of funny, they want really cold ice, but they want the air as warm as possible so we’re about 60 degrees right now.”
It’s the first Olympic Trials at the Pettit Center since 1998 and Golomski’s first as well, but after this week he has an even bigger adventure in store.
He’s been selected as the only American on the Winter Olympics Ice-Making Team. After the Olympic Trials, Golomski is headed to South Korea for a month to prepare the ice on the grandest stage.
“I’m really excited about it, but I’m nervous in the same way,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but this is what we do,” he said.