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Federal Way skating center is Olympic speedskaters' second home

From legend Apolo Ohno to newcomer Aaron Tran, Pattison's West has become a breeding ground for Olympic speedskaters.
The design of this sign at Pattison's West Skating Center in Federal Way, Wash., has not changed in decades. (Credit: KING)

There is a small place in Federal Way, Wash., where three Team USA speedskaters at the 2018 Winter Olympics learned to crouch, or lean, to be the best.

It's called Pattison's West Skating Center.

WATCH: Pattison's West Olympic history is about family

But what about this rink off Highway 99, which still has some of the signage and decor from decades ago, made it an Olympic breeding ground?

Is it the skates? The carpet? The maple wood rotunda floor?

Just ask long track speedskater Joe Mantia.

"Mike and Kate Pattison are great. That rink up there is awesome. One of the best floors in the nation," Mantia said.

You can also ask short track legend Apolo Ohno.

"They've been like family to me since I was a kid. I think that's where it starts," Ohno said.

That sense of family that bred other Olympians like J.R. Celski has been part of the DNA at Pattison's West for decades.

Working with all the kids and seeing kids grow up. It's actually the only thing we know how to do," owner Mike Pattison said.

Mike has skating in his blood. His grandfather owned a rink and so did his father. And now, Mike's son is in the business, too.

"I speed skated. My brother speedskated, and my sister -- my oldest sister -- speedskated and it just kind of kept going over all the years," Mike said.

They formed "Team Xtreme as a hobby, helping coach Ohno, Mantia, Celski, and this 2018 Olympics short track rookie Aaron Tran on how to balance those tight turns. National inline championships followed before a conversion to the ice.

"You have the Olympics on ice, and we don't have the Olympics," Mike said.

There is currently a wall of fame at the center. Mike notes that he had to downsize the display because there were too photos for the wall to hold.

Mike can't help but smile when talking about the rink's success as well as those kids that are now part of his extended family.

"I feel really lucky to know these people, because spent my whole life, and to know the best of my sport, and the best of ice," Mike said.

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