Olympic speed skater passes on passion for ice


BUTTE, Mont. - A Butte speed skater who once competed on the sport's biggest stage is passing his passion for ice along to a new generation. NBC Montana hit the ice with David Silk and the kids he is introducing to the sport. Ashton Whitehead is getting ready to put on her new skates. She told us her feet have grown too big for her figure skates. "My grandma let me use her old speed skates because she told me they were like figure skates," Whitehead said. "But they're not at all." She, like many others, came to the Butte High Altitude Skating Center to learn how to skate. "I have been going good with my skates and am now a bit perfect," said 6-year-old Miles Gasser. He began learning how to skate a few weeks ago. Director of the High Altitude Skating Oval David Silk teaches kids to skate. "I try to get as many people on speed skates," Silk said. "It doesn't matter what the age." Silk has a passion for skating, and he and chased it all the way to the Olympic games in 1984 and 1988. He told us his best place was 6th in the 5,000 meter race. "I skated all the world championships between those Olympics and did lots of traveling and it was a great experience," Silk said. He told NBC Montana he began skating when his neighbor convinced him to join the Skating Club in Butte. "She kind of pulled me into the club and I got the skating bug and it kind of went from there," Silk said. Silk told us speed skating is a rigorous sport, it takes lots of practice, but everybody starts at the same place. "It's just putting the skates on their feet and letting them kind of figure it out," Silk said. Ashton and Miles are still honing their skills skills on the ice, but they're already dreaming of competing for gold, silver or bronze. "It's a time that you get to show off to the world how good you are," said Miles.

"I want to do the best that I can for myself and that would really prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to," said Ashton. The High Altitude Skating Center is open Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.