5x Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair Cruikshank trains the next crop of talented speedskaters

Blair Cruikshank says the sport needs more young athletes
An Olympic legend who calls Wisconsin home is helping prepare the next generation of athletes, including her own daughter.
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 9:06 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2022 at 5:38 PM CST
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WMTV) -An Olympic legend who calls Wisconsin home is helping prepare the next generation of athletes, including her own daughter.

5-time Olympic gold medalist speedskater Bonnie Blair Cruikshank is still hitting the ice at 57-years-old. She won gold at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. She also won two gold medals at the ‘92 games in Lillehammer, Norway and two more golds at the ‘94 in Albertville, France.

“Did I ever in my wildest dreams think I would have five gold and a bronze? No way,” said Bonnie.

Today, Bonnie lives in the Milwaukee area. She’s married to 3-time Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank. The couple run DASH (Developing Athletes for Speedskating High-Performance) and train out of the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee.

The couple have two children: Grant Cruikshank plays hockey at the University of Minnesota and Blair Cruikshank is training to become an Olympic speedskater herself.

“She has shown a lot of promise,” said Bonnie.

Blair Cruikshank contracted COVID-19 just before this year’s U.S. Olympic trials in January. She was forced to sit out the competition and missed her chance at qualifying for Beijing.

“She is really looking toward those next Olympics in Italy and she’s on that path, so we are going to do everything in power to help her to get there,” said Bonnie. “But for the other part, it has to come from her and from within. But she wants to be out here and she wants to skate and she’s looking forward to the challenge and journey of it all,”

Bonnie grew up in Champaign, Illinois but has been living in Wisconsin for more than 35 years. She says the Pettit Center is the premier place to train in the country so that’s why she made Wisconsin home.

“So now I’ve pretty much been in Wisconsin since like 1984, so I’m a transplant cheddar head, right?” she said with a laugh.

Bonnie hopes her past success on the ice in addition to the spotlight on this year’s Olympic games in Beijing will inspire young athletes to give speedskating a try.

“First and foremost, it was my love of the sport that keeps me coming back,” said Bonnie. “It’s something that I’m very proud of -- that I have been able to accomplish and do for our sport -- and now we look to the future and what the future holds,”

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