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Pattisons: A history of training Olympic athletes

Mike Pattison, owner of Pattison’s West Skating Center in Federal Way, has known some of the most prominent in-line skaters in the United States. He has helped groom a couple of them himself.

Apolo Anton Ohno, considered a top contender for a gold at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, was once a protegé of Pattison’s.

Ohno started skating at Pattison’s when he was 6, and was soon racing as an in-line skater.

“He competed with our team, and by the time he was in his early teens, he was winning here at the national level,” Pattison said.

Pattison said Ohno’s lengthy racing experience, from in-line to speed skating, makes him a cut above most competitors, even on the Olympic level.

“He’s seen everything there is to see in competition,” he said. “Nothing can catch him off guard. That’s invaluable.”

That was especially true in Saturday’s 1,000-meter race, when Ohno was knocked to the ground but still had the presence of mind to crawl across the finish line for the silver medal.

Another Olympic contender, K.C. Boutiette, who competes in the 400-meter long track speed skating event, also trained at Pattison’s.

In 1992, Ohno and his father Yuki were watching the Olympic Winter Games and saw the similarities in the two sports. The crossover is relatively easy, Pattison explained, and several of the big names in speed skating started as in-line skaters.

“Derek Perra and his girlfriend Jennifer Rodriguez, Joey Cheek, all came from roller skating and in-lining,” he said.

Ohno left the Federal Way area when he was 14 to train at Lake Placid, N.Y. He is now considered a seasoned veteran and entered the Olympics as a World Cup Champion in the 500-, 1000- and 1500-meter races.

The training at Pattison’s includes the center’s “Team Extreme,” which Pattison’s bills as “One of the elite speed clubs in the country.”

The club has been the Northwest Regional High Point Champion, which includes seven states, for 12 years. There are 50 in-line skaters on the team, many of them national champions and national record holders, both from indoor and outdoor competitions.

Pattison said the local meets are held in Auburn, Lynnwood, Bremerton and Federal Way, and top skaters participate in the Professional Inline Racing Series (PIRS) held in five states across the nation.

One of the center’s claims to fame is Pattison’s son Shaun, who has been a national champion and continues to teach in-line racers.

Most recently, Shaun placed third in one of the most important outdoor races in the nation, Pattison said. Lately, though, Shaun has been talking about settling down, a good thing for the young skaters training at Pattison’s.

“He’s raced for 20 years and I think he’d like to move on in his life, buy a house,” Mike Pattison said. “I think he wants to run a skating rink.”

Pattison’s West Skating Center is located at 34222 Pacific Highway South. For schedules or more information, call (253) 838-7442 or visit www.pattisonswest.com.

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