MILWAUKEE -- Saturday night was the last opportunity for those in the Milwaukee area to see the U.S. Speedskating team compete at the Pettit National Ice Center before the 13 men and women head to PyeongChang, South Korea for the Winter Olympics.
One last tune up before taking off has a local athlete peaking at the perfect time. Waukesha North grad, Mitch Whitmore, accomplished one of his career goals Friday night when he set the Pettit track record in the 500-meter race.
The 500M is Whitmore’s strongest event. Earlier this month at the Olympic Trials, he won the event with a time of 35.03. Flash forward three weeks to last night, he cut off more than a tenth of a second.
Whitmore said a renewed focus on his technique as well as the hype heading into the Winter Games helped him set the new track record by the smallest of margins.
“At first it was 34.92 on the board and I was like oh my god one-hundredth off, but then they went to the photo finish and adjusted it and they usually get about 2-hundredths faster, so just what I needed and I was ecstatic and all the coaches and other athletes were pretty excited too,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore’s time of 34.90 broke the previous track record which stood for a dozen years. The 28-year-old will be heading to his third straight Olympic games on Tuesday. He’s expected to be a medal contender in the 500-meter long-track speed skating race. He will also compete in the 1,000-meter race.