WHITEFISH BAY -- Inspiration can come from anywhere. For a Whitefish Bay teenager, it came from his television nearly 12 years ago. Now, he's on the verge of fulfilling the dream that started from what he saw Italy in 2006.
"Nothing would be possible without the Pettit Center," said Will Gebauer.
Each lap around the Pettit National Ice Center ice is getting Will Gebauer closer to realizing something he envisioned nearly 12 years ago.
"Pretty much like everyone else's Olympic dream story, I watched the Torino Olympics in 2006, and I just decided hey I want to do this and here I am today," said Gebauer.
Today, tomorrow and most every day after, Gebauer will lace up his skates and go through the grind of training for a chance to represent the United States, as a long track speedskater in the Olympics.
"I just like to go out there and set a fast first split and just try to hold on the best I can. So, the mentality isn't really all that different for me. I'm just trying o go out and do the best I can," said Gebauer.
That mentality had him on the familiar Pettit Center ice in early January, competing in the Olympic trials for the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"It was probably the most fun I've ever had skating. The atmosphere is surreal. It's an honor to be in a situation like this where I can perform in front of the country," said Gebauer.
Initially he was a little nervous, as it was his first ever trials. But his history with the Pettit, which began with the West Allis Speed Skating Club ten years before, came to mind.
"The thought just occurred to me, hey, I train here every day. I know what this ice is like. I can go out there and i can skate the best I can. And I skated a Pettit personal, which is awesome," said Gebauer.
Gebauer, also had a lot of help in the stands. He grew up in nearby Whitefish Bay, graduating from Whitefish Bay High School in 2017.
"It means the world to me. Like I said, like just friends and family and the support, that's really what a lot of people miss when they look at these athletes, is the support system behind them. And I've got a solid one in place here in Milwaukee. And I'm just glad that my friends can come out and support me and cheer me on," Gebauer said.
Like one of his laps around the ice, the times since graduating has been a whirlwind.
"That's honestly been one of the hardest journeys I've taken over these past six months, just with the training schedule. But I'm staying focused," said Gebauer.
While his primary focus has been skating, he has competed in other sports along the way.
"I played pretty much everything from basketball, baseball, and then I kind of dabbled in track a little bit I played track off and on in high school too," said Gebauer.
Now, however, it's all about the ice and the dream.
"I did not expect to be this high up in the U.S. ranks, though. So, that feeling has been awesome, just getting the validation that hey, coming next four years I might be able to actually be going to Beijing," said Gebauer.