April’s Feature Club of the Month is the oldest speed skating club in the United States. Saratoga Winter Club (SWC), which is located in Saratoga Springs, NY, traces its roots back to 1888.
The SWC was established to promote the sport of recreational, instructional and competitive speed skating in Saratoga Springs and nearby towns; it is known for its rich and glorious history, getting its start in the 19th century and attracting winter sports enthusiasts from around the country ever since.
“The club prides itself on its passion for gathering to enjoy being on the ice, welcoming skaters of all levels, and providing a foundation to excel to the highest level,” said Coach Mary Brophy Magnus. Since the 1970s, SWC has produced eight Olympians:
John Wurster, 1968, 1972
Rich Wurster, 1968
Moira D'Andrea, 1988, 1992, 1998
Kristen Talbot, 1988, 1992, 1994
David Tamburrino, 1994, 1998
Erin Porter, 1998, 2002
Amy Peterson, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002
Trevor Marsicano, 2010
The SWC offers a year-round program utilizing both indoor and outdoor ice, and featuring off-season conditioning and in-line skating. Ice sessions begin in September and extend through March.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SWC club members have gone above and beyond the call of duty to come together so its skaters could endure yet another successful season on the ice. In doing so, the club is not only surviving, but thriving.
They began hosting time trial competitions in October, to give skaters the incentive to focus on their abilities; club volunteers joined together every three weeks for the trials, providing a platform for the skaters to participate in US Speedskating’s National Challenge.
Speaking of volunteers, another area in which SWC excels is in its robust volunteer coaching staff, which is led by 5-time Olympian and Olympic Medalist, Amy Peterson Peck.
Peck has extensive knowledge of how to win, being crowned U.S. Short Track Champion nine times. She also knows the athletes and the values of goal setting.
In addition, 5-time Olympic Short Track coach Pat Maxwell has a clear understanding of short track and has created a mass foundation of technical skills, strength, conditioning and racing strategies.
World-level Short Track Referee Tom Porter brings a positive attitude and enthusiasm, motivating skaters to develop the skills they need to compete at any level.
Physical therapist Maureen Cormier boasts over 35 years of experience in complex orthopedic and sports injuries and was a member of the medical support team at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Rounding out the staff are former U.S. National Team members and sisters, Kristen Greczkowski and Mary Brophy Magnus, who both competed with Peck in the ‘90s. The 47-year-old Magnus recently returned to racing and quickly reclaimed her status at the elite level; she was crowned champion of the North East Short Track Series in 2018-19 and runner up in 2019-20. Her natural ability, commitment and clear passion for speed skating provides the skaters with great inspiration.
The club has a terrific youth and development program where families join together, creating a place where children can develop good sportsmanship skills, physical literacy, emotional control and a higher self-esteem. Currently, SWC has a solid group of boys and girls, ages 8-14, who are eagerly developing their athletic character, which will encompass them as they face the challenges of their competitors or everyday lives.
Regardless of age or skill level, those who frequent SWC feel like part of a family and, when one of their long-time members was recently faced with a tragedy, her skating family quickly stepped in to help.
In all, the Saratoga Winter Club is a place for members to connect, gather, bond and grow over their shared love of the sport. And, among its members are an ample amount of up-and-coming Olympic hopefuls leaning on the club's storied history and fantastic staff to help inspire them to reach their goals.
To learn more about the Saratoga Winter Club, click here.