Arizona's New Short Track Speed Skating Club

Arizona's New Short Track Speed Skating Club

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Arizona? Probably not ice and speed skating. You probably think of the heat, desert terrain, and lots of cacti. But Arizona has ice rinks, a professional hockey team, and even speed skating. A new Short Track Speed Skating Club has just started at the Ice Den in Chandler, Arizona. You can join them for drop-in sessions on Saturday afternoons, and they hope to generate enough interest to begin a Learn to Speedskate program soon. Today, we are talking with Rick Olson about his new short track speed skating club in Arizona.

Relocating from the Midwest

Before living in Arizona, Rick lived in the Midwest where his son became involved with speedskating. Rick says, “For a few years my son, who is 13, was part of the Park Ridge/Glen Ellen Speed Skating Team. Through good coaching and a healthy competitive environment, he, like most of his teammates, excelled.”

Then, Rick and his family relocated to Arizona because of his job. Rick took his love of speed skating with him to Arizona, and started examining the possibility of starting a short track speed skating club in Arizona. He says, “After relocating to Arizona by my company, I inquired into speed skating at the many ice rinks in the area, but only one rink responded with interest—the Ice Den in Chandler. The Ice Den Vice President of Business Development responded to my email, [and] we set up a meeting. I explained to her why I felt that there was potential [for speed skating], such as the interest and diversity in ice sports, the competitive atmosphere, the quality of the Ice Den facility, the benefit of speed skating for a large demographic, the proximity to the Utah Olympic Oval, and the benefits of speed skating for kids.”

After talking to the Vice President of Development at the Ice Den, Rick was able to secure ice time and set up a speedskating club. He says that the name of the club will probably be “AZ Speed Skating, but this is in discussions.”

How to Start a Successful Short Track Speed Skating Club

Starting a new short track speed skating club takes a lot of dedication, networking, and a love for the sport. Rick says, “You need to have a vision and passion for [speedskating], which I picked up from our clubs in the Midwest. Then you need to reach out, make phone calls, network, and have a bit of luck. I saw the potential in the greater Phoenix area, and started out by calling the Ice Den to let them know how they would benefit. Then I contacted coaches that I knew in the Midwest to get some ideas. One of the coaches introduced me to someone at US Speedskating, who gave me further ideas and names of speedskaters in the area, which were looking for a rink to speed skate at for many years. However, to be successful, the next most significant steps are getting loaner skates, and stating a Learn to Speedskate Program for kids and families that are looking for other ice sport options.”

Future Goals for the Club

When starting a new speedskating club, it’s always good to have goals. Rick says, “Our club, [is] 6 weeks old and not quite formal. But our plan is to strengthen the program and increase the participation to 30+, start a learn to speedskate program for kids, host races, and develop relationships with other rinks that have the same vision, whether in the same state or in neighbor states to host meets.”

The AZ Speed Skating Club has drop in sessions on Saturday afternoons at the Ice Den in Chandler. Short track sessions go from 2:45 to 4:00 PM. Contact Rick Olson at and check out the Ice Den at (480) 598-9400 or for more information.

*Thanks to Rick Olson for photos.

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