MILWAUKEE -- The top speedskaters in the world whip around the ice at 40 miles per hour.
“You just feel like you’re flying," said Erin Bartlett, a competitor at this week's U.S. Olympic Trials.
Behind the wheel of a Zamboni, Paul Golomski takes a different approach. Slow and steady is the only way to win his race.
“We’re striving to get a perfect sheet every single day," Golomski said.
The Milwaukee-native is the Facility Director at the Pettit National Ice Center.
“I walked in this building the week it opened and I was just awestruck by it," said Golomski, who grew up playing hockey.
He started working at the Pettit part-time in 1998, went full-time two years later and took over as Facility Director in 2005. His 20-year career at the venue culminated this week with the Olympic Trials in Long Track.
“If I wasn’t nervous something would be wrong," Golomski said with a smile.
Halfway through the event, Golomski has heard nothing but praise.
“I’ve never seen a turnout like this before," Bartlett said of the sold-out crowds. "It’s been really great. And they’ve been taking such great care of the ice for us and making sure the conditions are as best as they can be.
“To see people – on the ice that we created – live out their dreams," said Golomski. "I mean what more could you ask for?”
How about a trip to the Games themselves? While the skaters try to lock up a spot on Team USA, Golomski already punched his ticket to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea – as the only American on the ice making team at the Long Track venue.
“The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of athletic performance," Golomski stated. "I can’t think of a greater honor for myself, being an ice maker in this sport, to go over there and be part of the Olympics.”
Pretty cool for a guy who grew up just hoping to drive a Zamboni some day.