25 Laps with Pat Moore
Pat Moore entered the sport of speedskating with the Northwest Speedskating Club in Niles, Illinois, back in the 1970’s when the Midwest was a hotbed of short track clubs and skaters. Pat’s skating talent and ability was diverse and he performed in both long and short track speed skating at the highest levels of our sport, earning a few international medal performances along the way. Just a few of Pat’s accomplishments included achieving a silver medal performance in the 500m event in the 1980 Jr. World Championships in Assen, Netherlands. He also won a bronze medal in the 500m at the World Short Track Championships in Tokyo, Japan in 1983. Pat was the 1983 National Champion in Short Track, tying for the overall title with Patrick Maxwell.
During Pat’s career he represented the US in the 1980 Junior World Championships, the 1981 Sprint and All-Around World Championships, and the World Short Track Championships in 1983 & 1984. One of highlights of Pat’s career was earning a position on the first US Short Track Olympic Team in 1988, when short track was introduced as an exhibition sport into the Olympic program in Calgary, Canada. Pat was one of a handful of speed skating athletes who could navigate on the 111.12m & 400m ovals almost equally well.
Post skating, Pat took advantage of the US Olympic Education Center in Marquette, Michigan, ultimately graduating from Northern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Graphic Design. Today, Pat works assisting his wife Peggy Karpfinger with their popular downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin restaurant, Centro Cafe. He also maintains a number of rental properties he has restored over a number of years. In Pat and Peggy’s spare time, they volunteer to make a difference in their close knit community of River West in Milwaukee.
We caught up with Pat recently for a few laps…
Let’s start off with some background info…
Patrick Arthur Moore
Where are you from? Where do you reside now?
I was born in Niles, Illinois, and grew up in the north Chicago area. My wife and I now reside in Milwaukee, WI.
When did you start skating Pat? Retire/Finish? or do you feel you’ll always be skating/a skater?
I began speedskating at the age of 11 in 1973, at the Ballard Ice Rink with the Northwest Speedskating Club. My career finished after the 1988 skating season. I began to have some problems with one of my ankles that probably contributed to my retirement. It affected my confidence and with my age at that time and what I had accomplished, I felt it was time to retire. I think it was a good thing for me, as although I enjoyed skating, I didn’t want to continue on struggling with an injury and skating at a level less than I felt I could achieve.
So you began your skating career with a club?
Yes, as I said the Northwest Speedskating Club in Niles, Illinois. On that topic, I’d like to mention the Passarella family as they kept the Northwest Speedskating Club going for a long time and contributed so much to myself and my sister and brother and many other skaters in the club. You know it’s a bit of an ironic story, my brother was a much better athlete than I was, but he fell out of a tree when he was about 9 years old and that really impacted his athletic ability. And my sister Marlene was actually the first to begin skating with the club. I saw as a kid that they were getting to travel and stay overnight at hotels and in different places and playing video games and swimming in the hotel pools and it seemed like a lot of fun and that is actually what drew me to skating at an early age. I never started thinking about the Olympics, etc.
Let’s talk a bit about your skating experience…
Why did you start/keep skating?
Really, it was probably due to when my sister and I used to go to public skating sessions on Friday and Saturday night on hockey skates, and usually we would get reprimanded a few times a session by the skating guard and told to sit down and take a time out. When we came across a sport that was about just going as fast as one could, with no one telling you to slow down but to go faster, it seemed like the sport for us!
Did you have any nicknames when you skated?
Oh boy, I was given the nickname Harv, because my last name matched a well known coach of those days “Harvey Moore”. Harvey coached a few World Team Members and Olympians. The guy who gave me that nickname has an interesting nickname himself “Daddy Wags”, Jack Wagner from Ohio. He was quite the story teller and the guy who seemed to give out the nicknames.
What do you consider your greatest skating accomplishments?
I feel my biggest accomplishment was in short track skating and beyond any teams I made or medals/championships won, was to make the racing exciting for the competitors and the spectators. Indoor skating (back then/referred to as short track now) competitions with skaters like Nick Thometz, Jeff Klaiber and Ron Muck were just super exciting. I did manage to finish 3rd in the 500m at the 1983 World Championships in Short Track in Tokyo and won a few National Championships along the way. Skating with names like Grenier and Ishihara and the Daignaults. These guys were legends of the sport at the time and I was feeling very good with my skating at that time. It was fun and challenging to compete with them.
Who were your coaches/mentors in skating?
Haha, I wasn’t really that great with coaches and wasn’t very close to many along the way. Peter Shotting comes to mind in 1978. He taught us brutal training sessions that were never ending but prepared us well for what we needed to do in the sport. Eric Heiden was probably the person I looked up to most along with his sister Beth. He was an amazing example to the whole skating world at the time, and we got to live and breathe the sport with him. Whatever he did seemed to be the right thing to do.
One memory I have is of what Eric Heiden’s mom said to Jeff Klaiber (a teammate close to my age and experience at the time) and myself upon a departure for an overseas trip about 1979; she said, “be sure to have fun.” At first we didn’t understand why she didn’t say “try to win” or “do well,” but looking back I think we eventually realized what wisdom she imparted on us. She really wanted us to have fun and enjoy the experience along the way. Many people wanted us to beat the Russian’s, as there was a lot of animosity toward them at that time as a country, but truly many of them were actually very nice people and there were of course better competitors from other countries that were even harder to beat than the Russians!
Do you have a particular place or favorite track/rink to skate?
Well, it would have to be West Allis State Fairgrounds! Just kidding - haha, Inzell, West Germany for sure comes to mind. I always describe when talking about my experiences and traveling in skating that it was like living in the “Sound of Music.” Actually, about 16 miles from where we trained there was the Austrian Alps where the Sound of Music was filmed, with alpine houses and sheep and very small-town settings. In Inzell, it was mainly farmers and the area made a pretty strong effort at keeping the preservation of the town like it was many generations ago. If you’ve ever traveled there, you’ll know, you are in a pretty unique place.
Davos, Switzerland was also amazing. It was higher altitude than most rinks at the time, so it was a super-fast track where the sun would cause the ice to have an amazing finish/gloss. Davos was noted for its beauty and its great ice. The fact that the elements were still present made it even more enjoyable.
Did you have a favorite place or somewhere memorable where you trained?
That would have to be Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Olympic Training Center. Must have something to do with mountains and when waking up in the morning, the view of the Rocky Mountain ridgeline was incredible. The climate was also very nice for training, with altitude and arid conditions, and while you were there to do business to train hard with your teammates and friends. It was a real family atmosphere and great relationships were built there. It was like having sisters and brothers, as everyone was very close on the team, like a family. I’d also like to share that the women on the team always kept us civil, and we learned a great deal about respecting women from them, which back then, the times were just a little different for women in sport and society. I really valued that experience and looking back, I am better for it today.
What was happening on the music scene when you were skating?
Jeff Klaiber seemed to be the music “Google” back then and got me interested in music. I was kind-of uninterested and didn’t care too much about that before he introduced me, and Jeff got me to attend my first concert which was the Go Go’s! We also liked the Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” which was a big album at the time. I also recall “Echo and the Bunnymen.” That was the kind of stuff we listened to.
What do you remember about your best race ever?
Ah, my best race ever I believe was at the Jr. World Championships in Assen, NL. Craig Kressler in 1979 was kind of my idol, and he finished first in the 500m and I finished second. We skated arm in arm after the race was finished. It was so memorable, it was a blast! I was amazed that the spectators would follow a scrawny little guy from Chicago and there would pretty much be cheering sections for every country at the competition.
What other sports did/do you do?
Bike racing was a great complimentary off-season training sport and became a big part of my off-season training for almost 20 years. I did some Inline skating toward the end of my career, and that was like flipping a switch. There was a lot of quality competition at that time, and I transferred right over to that sport.
Did you pursue any education after skating? What field?
Northern Michigan University, Bachelor of Arts (computer graphic design). I was very fortunate to take advantage of the United States Olympic Training Center program at NMU at that time. The state of Michigan was a big contributor to that cost, and that really helped me finance my school. It (school) wasn’t in my sights and my family was blue collar and school really wasn’t on my radar. I feel I was very fortunate to be a part of that and obtain higher education through that program.
What do you do now for work?
When I was young my father allowed us to play with the tools around the house. That inspired me to learn to use them and I’ve done some renovations of older homes and maintain some rental properties today. I enjoy trying to be a good landlord. My wife (Peggy Karpfinger) and I also started a restaurant together called Centro Café. It’s on center street in Milwaukee, so we felt it (Centro) was a memorable name. Our insignia looks like the black dot with the black ring, which is the “you are here” symbol in Europe. My wife is a landscape designer, so it comes to her very easily.
What hobbies, volunteer work, or special affiliations do you have now?
My special affiliation would have to be my relationship with the River West neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are always looking to support each other and people are that way in our community. We have a lot of cooperative housing that really helps people and people really learn to work together and build strong community and to grow and learn. I’ve come to feel that is really important in life and I’m happy to be part of it.
Final thoughts on the sport…
Do you have a special memory from skating you’d like to share?
The sport and the pinnacle place to reach, an Olympic Team, is most skaters main goal. However, when I meet people who ask about my Olympic experience I try to explain it (Short Track) was an exhibition sport when I competed (in the 1988 Olympics held in Calgary), so sometimes I feel like I made the “exhibition team.” However. we were the first, “pioneers” in short track in the Games. I feel pretty good about that.
Also, going to Alpine Valley, Wisconsin in the summer to run hills with coach (Peter) Schotting was memorable. We’d drive to Milwaukee from the Chicago area four to five times a week to train with them (the skaters based there).
Also, the “goal setting” in skating was important. If I ever had to talk about it, putting in your time for a goal that might be four or six or eight years away, and the summer training that was so far from the actual skating at the time you were doing it - it was just strange at times, but you learned to put in your time and not expect instant gratification. I truly think that probably sets many athletes on the right path for a healthy and successful life. You might learn that in school, I’m not sure, however I think skating had lessons that were unique in their own way.
I had my fun times and I learned to take my days off when I needed them. When I was allowed to participate from local training to international training, I eventually saw the fruit of my labors and sometimes that can be hard to see in the moment you are performing that training. Also, there are often more losses than wins along the way sometimes in life, but this was not meant to be a cliché quote, it was something you lived every day. In the end, our decisions about skating were really not that dramatic, but nevertheless we learned something from our skating experience. No matter your challenge or your choices, they really aren’t that awful in skating compared to some you or others have to make/overcome in life.
One thing you could change about your skating days if you could?
Once and a while I wonder if I didn’t have so much fun when I would travel, e.g. it was always in my head that the banquet was going to be great and socialize, and after skating/competition outside/off the ice! I sometimes felt like we partied too hard, and maybe enjoyed ourselves a little too much. (Lol) Maybe I took Mrs. Heiden’s suggestions too liberally! I also think I may have taken some of the visits to famous places and sites for granted. Maybe I was looking at that cute Italian girl versus a famous painting I should have took note of. I wish I knew more about them at the time.
Any special wishes/comments regarding the direction of the sport today?
I have been thinking lately that the Olympic movement...pause…I wish it had more of a social involvement, not to get political, but fairness and sharing some of what the luxury of what the athlete’s got to experience. Maybe if it were a little more visible on the Olympic broadcasts as to what is going on in the communities where these things (Olympic Games) take place. It would be cool if teams had objectives, like going into communities and speaking with young inner-city kids about life lessons. If they could hear and witness some of what arguably successful people need to do to get there. It’s about knowing what to do to get there and all that goes with that.
Good points Pat and fantastic memories - thanks for your time. Keep up the great work out there!