The Wisconsin State Historical Society holds many photographs from the 1950s: https://wisconsinhistory.org/Records?terms=speed+skating
Wisconsin has long been a training site for speedskaters, since at least 1924, in which speedskating became an Olympic sport. With combined Wisconsin natives and trainees who moved to Wisconsin from across the United States; the state has had at least one skater on each Olympic speedskating team, since 1932. Though Olympic awards were only given to men at the time, in 1932 women started competing on an exhibition status at the Lake Placid Games, in which our very own Elizabeth Dubois, Edgewood Alum, won first in the 1000m and 2nd in the 500m. It was not until 1960 Games that women’s speedskating was officially included into the program.
Madison Speedskating Club was created in 1936, making it one of the oldest clubs in the nation. Though as seen above, Madison has been the home of speedskating even longer than the existence of the club.
We are very proud and humbled by the both the rich history of speedskating in the Madison community as well as all the Olympians who have called our wonderful city home throughout the years. Madisonian Olympians include Elizabeth DuBois, William Carow, Connie Carpenter, Kay Lunda, Beth Heiden, Eric Heiden, Dan Immerfall, Lori Monk, Peter Mueller, Mary Doctor, Sarah Doctor, Dave Besteman, Anne Hellmuth, Juill Michell, Sugar Todd, Casey FitzRandolph, and Tucker Fredricks.
Speedskating season lasts from October- March. At the time of Casey FitzRandolph, 500m specialist Olympian, speedskaters would skate both long and short track, depending on the month of year. In the Fall, when the Vilas Park lagoon was not yet frozen, skaters would practice and compete Short Track, around a 111.12 meter indoor hockey rink. When the lagoon froze over in December – February, skaters would transition to Long Track on the outdoor oval at Vilas Park. Again, in the Spring when the lagoon was thawing, skaters would transition back to Short Track skating.
Vilas Park Lagoon was the home of Madison Speedskating and well known for two major races—the Annual Madison All City Race and Wisconsin State Speedskating Championship. Today the Vilas Park Lagoon is unfortunately closed due to unpredictable weather and lack of volunteers to clear snow. However, the wooden plaque still stands, with the names of Olympians who use to skate at Vilas Park. The history will always be remembered.
In Jan 2011, the Madison Speedskating club brought back the annual Madison All-City Meet, which had ended 25 years earlier. The volunteers originally prepared a rink at the capital but ended up back at to where it all started—Vilas Park Lagoon. With single digit temperatures, the conditions were perfect. The meet drew a crowd of about 30 skaters, both from the club and newcomers interested in trying out speedskating.
There is a dream to bring back the Vilas Park Lagoon oval one day but for now indoor skating is just easier. Today’s goal now is to bring more people into the sport. It is not just an Olympic thing, it is for anyone who wants to go fast on ice and turn left!
|William Carow||William Carow||Connie Carpenter
|Dave Besteman||Casey FitzRandolph|
|Anne Hellmuth||Casey FitzRandolph||Jill Mitchell||Casey FitzRandolph||Tucker Fredricks|