Like many local residents tuning into the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Mike and Kay Pattison, owners of Pattison’s West Skating Center in Federal Way, will be rooting for U.S. Short Track speedskaters J.R. Celski and Aaron Tran.
Celski and Tran are not only both Federal Way natives and graduates of Todd Beamer High School, they both got their start at Pattison’s as members of the inline skating club team.
Celski, 28, is making his third Olympics appearance, having received two bronze medals in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and a silver at the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia. Tran, the 2015 junior overall national champion, is competing in the Olympics for the first time.
Celski and Tran are not the first Olympians to have gotten their start at Pattison’s, however. Apolo Anton Ohno, an eight-time Olympic speedskating medalist, also got his start there, too, and Mike Pattison, said Ohno will be commentating the speedskating events, which begin Saturday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“I coached all these guys,” Pattison said, adding it will be exciting to be watching Tran and Celski on the international stage, while listening to Ohno.
Pattison’s West, however, has ties to more members of the U.S. Olympic Speedskating team. Joey Mantia, the No. 1 skater on the long track team, also trained at Pattison’s at one time in his career at the request of one of his sponsors, who was in Olympia.
“We actually know almost the whole [U.S.] Olympic speedskating team,” Pattison said. “It’s kind of cool that we know them all. We have a lot of people to cheer for.”
While many speedskaters on the U.S. Olympic team roster got their start inline skating, that three Olympians have hailed from Federal Way is in part because of the inline skating club team the Pattisons have led for over 30 years, started by Mike and now coached by son, Darin.
Mike Pattison said both Celski and Tran got their starts on the inline skating team as boys, with Celski joining when he was just three years old. His father, Bob Celski, former Federal Way City Council member and local businessman, also competed for the team, as did his two brothers.
“It was quite the family affair,” Mike Pattison said.
Tran joined when he was older, and transitioned to ice at the age of 13.
“They’re just talented, and inliners are just hard workers, and it just carried over to ice,” Kay Pattison said about Celski and Tran’s success. “We’re excited for them. I mean they’ve worked their whole lives for this.”
Both Pattisons agree it is a big commitment to go from inline skating to ice, competing on the national and international stage.
Mike Pattison said, not only did Celski and Tran have to be good skaters, but transitioning from inline skating to ice frequently means moving away to train, as they both did. He said not too many teens want to make that kind of commitment at 13 or 14, and neither do their parents. Tran was 13 when he relocated to Utah, where he still trains. Plus, renting ice time and speedskating is much more expensive, Pattison said.
“You have to be really serious,” he said.
Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell also said he and his family will be watching the Olympics and rooting for the Federal Way natives.
He said it is a source of pride for the city that Federal Way has two Olympians competing in Pyeongchang and that the city is lucky to have a rink that has launched the careers of so many skaters.
“It really takes a tremendous amount of discipline and hard work to land a spot in the Olympics, and for two of those individuals to be from Federal Way is really remarkable,” Ferrell said.
Mike Pattison said he anticipates another inline skater from the Federal Way club to compete in the Winter Olympics, and perhaps exceeding the prior Olympians’ success. He said Corinne Stoddard, a 16-year-old from Lake Tapps who attends Bonney Lake High School, is already making a name for herself in inline and speedskating nationally.
The 2018 Olympics Speedskating Short Track television schedule:
Saturday, Feb. 10
2 a.m., NBCSN
Tuesday, Feb. 13
9:30 a.m., NBCSN
5 p.m., NBC
11 p.m. (encore), NBC
Sunday, Feb. 18
2 a.m., NBC
Tuesday, Feb. 20
9:45 a.m., NBCSN
10:05 p.m., NBC
Thursday, Feb. 22
4:45 a.m., NBCSN
5 p.m., NBC
9:30 p.m., NBCSN
11:35 p.m. (encore), NBC
For the entire television schedule of 2018 Olympics events, go to nbcolympics.com/tv-listings/.