If 10 year old Leah Atterbury’s grandfather could see her speed skating around the ice now, he would be smiling.
Atterbury, of Fitchburg, is a fifth-grader at the Verona Area International School who has been hooked on speed skating since taking a one-month lesson offered by the Madison Speedskating Club last year, where she learned the basics.
“It’s a lot of different motions than hockey,” Atterbury said. “In speedskating, you have to go as fast as you can and skate a lot lower.”
Atterbury’s late grandfather, David Medaris, who grew up in Madison with U.S. Olympian speedskater Eric Heiden, who won five gold medals, set four Olympic records and one world record at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Wisconsin has a long tradition of speed skating in the Olympics that includes Heiden, Verona native Casey FitzRandolph, the 2002 gold medalist who owns the Olympic record in the 500 meters, Dan Jansen (West Allis), Dan Immerfall (Madison) and Chris Witty (West Allis).
Shortly after that, Atterbury joined the club and has been competing in intrasquad speed skating races the final Monday every month at the Oregon Ice Arena. Each race has about three to five skaters and races are held at two, four and seven laps.
“It’s fun to do speed skating because they make it like a real meet with the club,” she said.
Atterbury had to learn to use her lower body while skating in a lower crouched position, she said, and also had to rely on her back, ankle strength, flexibility and balance. Atterbury said the most difficult part of speed skating is learning to go around the corners, as she had to learn the way to push and turn.
“The corners are where you pick up a lot of speed,” she said. “I have to do crossovers as fast as I can. I can’t slow down because that is where I gain speed.”
Atterbury hasn’t competed in a speed skating race against another club, but she’s hoping to get the opportunity if COVID-19 restrictions allow.
“I know I’m not guaranteed to get first place, but I’m excited to go if it’s safe enough,” she said.
Meet former Marine Sergeant Dan Greene, one of the many athletes who will be representing the Madison VA at the National Veterans Golden Age Games this June. Dan is no stranger to adversity. In fact, the adversity he’s overcome is part of what makes his accomplishments so incredible.
Dan served in the Marine Corps from 1986-1997. In 1996, an accident during a training mission in California left him with a with a bad back injury. While he might not have been able to regain his ability to carry around a hundred pounds of gear in the field, he set his sights on competitive speed skating. In 2015, Dan won his first Speedskating National Championship and won his second in 2017. While he was training to defend his title in 2018, Dan suffered a stroke. Doctors told him he was lucky to be alive, but that he likely would not be able to skate again.
Despite the devastating news, Dan was determined not to lose touch with the sport, so he volunteered to coach. In 2019, Dan received the blessing from his doctor to skate again and was able to compete in the Long Track National Championship in Milwaukee as well as the Short Track National Championship in Verona WI. He WON THEM BOTH!!! As if that’s not enough of a comeback story, Dan capped it off by being named Volunteer Coach of the Year by Team USA, beating out coaches from every other sport to earn the distinction.
As a Veteran athlete participating in the National Veterans Golden Age Games, Dan hopes to demonstrate to other veterans that obstacles and adversity don’t have to define them. “Something bad comes from something good. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. My favorite part of these accomplishments is that I can inspire other people. It’s quite humbling.”
Come cheer Dan on in June when he competes in Cycling and Track at the Golden Age Games taking place this June in Madison WI.
MSSC helped Alumni and Olympian, Casey FitzRandolph demonstrate short track speedskating at the Frozen Asset Festival, this past weekend (Feb 8th, 2020). Conor Greene and Mathew Voegeli helped on the ice and many other MSSC team mates are watching from the sides. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the turnout to the event was great (check out that crowd)! Thanks Casey for letting us help you out!
Friends of Lake Wingra — History of Speedskating in Madison.
Gold Cup LT 2020
Park Ridge Novice Meet 2019
USOPC Volunteer Coach of the Year – Daniel Greene
Each year US Speedskating offers it’s members the opportunity to submit nominations in various categories of coaching. The USS Coaching Task Force selects the best candidate to put forth to a national pool of coaches the USOPC selects the national winners from. Past USOPC winners include: Cindi Hart, Carl Cepuran, Tom Miller and Diane Holum.
The Volunteer Coach of the Year is presented to a coach who does not receive payment in any form for their involvement in coaching at any level. A volunteer coach at the Madison Speedskating Club, Greene has demonstrated commitment and passion for speedskating that has elevated both his athletes and club to the next level. After enduring a stroke in 2018, Greene became a certified US Speedskating coach in less than six months. He teaches athletes how to build tailored roadmaps for success and goes beyond to make speedskating accessible by donating equipment to help skaters achieve their goals. Last year, Greene’s club saw seven skaters compete in their first meet, 10 compete at regional competitions and eight qualify for the age-class short track national championships. He strives to provide resources to up-and-coming clubs to help build and sustain the sport in the Midwest and across the U.S.