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Henry’s Kids program ushers in next generation of speed skaters

January 18, 2020
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - On Thursday and Sunday afternoons, local children rush onto the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in flashy blue rental speed skates. Some wear helmets, snow pants or athletic wear; others wear casual clothes and cautiously take a few laps.

Usually wearing a bright red jacket, former world and national team member Mike Miller, who trained alongside Olympic legend Eric Heiden, leads skaters through the basics on Sundays, assisting with skates, leading impromptu races and generally ensuring that the skaters remain safe and learn how to speed skate. On Thursdays, world/national level three coach and program director Tom Miller coaches.

This is Henry's Kids, a program started by the Adirondack Speed Skating Club that is currently in its fifth season. Named after local businessman and philanthropist Henry Uihlein, the program was created after Miller met with Uihlein Foundation directors several years ago.

Article Photos

Tom Miller instructs participants in the Henry’s Kids program in December 2018.
Photo provided

"Henry Uihlein was very involved in Lake Placid speedskating in the early 20th century and (the Foundation Directors) also discovered that he was one of the starters at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, and told me they would like to help to bring speedskating glory days back to Lake Placid," Miller said. "The idea of 'Henry's Kids' was to tie directly the equipment and supplies purchased through supporting grants from the foundation directly to Henry (Uihlein's legacy) not just the Foundation."

Part of this grant was used to purchase a fleet of speed skates, which are kept at the Oval for local children to use.

"Any child under the age of 18 is able to just show up to the Olympic Oval on the above nights. We will fit them to the best of our ability with our skates and coaching is and always will be free," Tom Miller said.

Children who attend school in Lake Placid are entitled to purchase a "school pass" for $5, which allows them access to all oval speed and public skating sessions. I

In addition to the Millers, other Adirondack Speed Skating Club members have helped out with coaching, including national competitor and 2018 Junior World Team Member Esther Munoz and two-time Junior World Team Member Sydney Yu Terpening, a former Lake Placid student and two-time Junior World Team member, both Lake Placid school alumnae. Currently, Lake Placid High School senior and ASSC member Claire Liew helps coach in between training sessions.

About a dozen children currently take advantage of the program, but Miller always wants to encourage greater participation.

"Speedskating is an awesome sport that we want to develop locally by giving local children the chance to try the sport at little to no cost to gain their interest," Miller said. "If they show that interest, we then develop group and individualize programs to help the child develop as an athlete and a good representative for the sport.

"Our goal is to have the numbers back up like in the '60s and '70s and to show the rest of the country Lake Placid is a viable training center for the sport."

For more information on Henry's Kids, interested participants can stop by the Oval, visit the Adirondack Speedskating Club Facebook page, or look for the posters in the Olympic Center and local schools.



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