Carpenter Molding Future Stars

Olympic Speedskater Coaches at Pettit Center

By Rick Rietbrock

Kip Carpenter won a bronze in 2002 and skated in 2 Olympics. Now the Brookfield native is back in Milwaukee. He retired from competition and is coaching. "I am enjoying coaching," says Carpenter. "I especially enjoy when the skaters come around hooting and hollering i know how that feels." Kip created the SWIFT team, which is an acronym for skating with integrity, fortitude and tenacity. 23 members train 6 days a week at the Pettit Center, all under Kip's eye. "It's really rewarding to be able to give that to someone else and to give them the feeling of success," he says. "Our motto is the first step on the ice to the last step to the podium, we're doing a great job at that as well." The Pettit used to be the hot bed of speedskatng but many moved away. "The majority moved to Salt Lake to prepare in 2002 and they never came back," Carpenter says. "There's some emotion there for me I come back to this great facility and everyone's gone. SWIFT speedskating is the United States' answer to professional speedskating and skaters are coming back now." Kip's banner hangs with those of other Olympians at the Pettit. His experience really resonates with the young skaters. Matt Shanahan says "He's been to where i want to be. He's been to the Olympics, he's won championships, and that information is priceless." "He's very intense," says Jilleanne Rookard. "He brings out the intense side of me, that's what I need, trying to push myself to the next level." Kip's team is made up of some big names like Shani Davis and rising star Trevor Marsicano but they also have a lot of up and comers. Matt Shanahan has a chance to make the Olympics. "It's a life long goal," says Shanahan. "It's kind of cool to see it coming to be and actually having a shot." Kip arranges for the athletes to have access to massages, nutritionists and sports psychologists. His fiance Inga also helps train. She's a former skater from the Netherlands. She's got a degree in speedskating, in the netherlands that's what you go to school for, she also brings a european element to the team. Kip and Inga are following the Dutch model making the team like one big family, with a lot of community support. "That's really the general feeling i'm trying to create here and the skaters are loving it, says Carpenter. "Everyone's improving, not one has gone backwards, that says a lot." It's a great situation for Kip Carpenter. Back home, helping to revitalize the Pettit and passing along his skills all at the same time. "Milwaukee is my hometown, the Pettit Center is an elite training facility, he says. "It just makes sense that there needs to be an elite speedskating team and there hasn't been. This is what the Pettit was designed for... to make the world's fastest speedskaters to come out of here right here in Milwaukee. It's a full time job for Kip Carpenter and one that he plans to stick with for awhile.