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Olympic speedskating hopefuls compete at Pettit Center

Olympic speedskating hopefuls compete at Pettit Center

By Tom Murray. CREATED Dec 19, 2011

WEST ALLIS - The next Winter Olympics may be two years away, but the skaters competing in West Allis this past weekend already have their sights set on that prize.

They are among the best athletes in their sport, not just in this country, but in the world.  They are speedskaters who battled for U.S. titles this past weekend at the Pettit National Ice Center.

Jill Rookard competed in the 2010 Vancouver games and is on track to be on the 2014 Olympic team.

"When I go home and speak with my family about it, seeing their reaction, makes me think 'wow', what a great opportunity I'm getting for a few years of my life," said Rookard.

2010 Olympian Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr. is recovering from injuries that put her on the sidelines.

She also has her sights set on competing for the U.S. at the next winter games In Sochi, Russia in February 2014.

"You need all those four years to really learn your body, get to know it to the because tapering and training and knowing when to be at your peak performance for that once in a lifetime race," explained Swider-Peltz, Jr.

Wisconsin continues to be a key training site for olympic hopefuls. 

The Pettit is one of just a handful of speedskating ovals in the country.

"We have the best of both worlds," said Ryan Shiambukuro, a U.S. speedskating coach. 

"We have two indoor tracks, one at altitude in Salt Lake City, one at sea level here in Milwaukee.  It's going to become a very important combination as we prepare for Sochi."

This competition does not qualify anyone for the 2014 Olympics, but the competitors say this is a really good test.