USS recognizes Chuck Gilbert as the spotlight..." /> USS recognizes Chuck Gilbert as the spotlight..." />

USS Spotlight Volunteer Chuck Gilbert

by US Speedskating

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved in speed skating?
I’m 72 and have lived in Anchorage, AK for 46 years and got into speed skating in 1985 when a 400 meter track near my office was iced over for speed skating. I got a pair of Viking speed skates from a co-worker and started spending lunch hours skating on that outdoor oval for exercise and to get out in the brief midday winter light. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to speed skate, but enjoyed it. I did that for a couple winters until the track was no longer iced.  In 2008 a dedicated 400-meter outdoor skating oval was completed. On a lark I took my old Viking skates out to the oval one night and there was a small group of speed skaters there skating pace-lines. I was invited to join in with this friendly group and was hooked. I joined the board of the Alaska Speedskating Club the next year, and took the role of Long Track Race Director.  And have been on the board ever since.

How long have you been involved with the sport?
Altogether about 14 years.

How much time do you think you spend volunteering/officiating?
My wife thinks way too much.  On average about 8 hours a week.

What do you do when you volunteer/officiate? Please, name everything, don’t be modest!
I’m currently the treasurer of the Alaska Speedskating Club. So I track and handle the income and expenses of the Club. A financial report is presented to the board each month. I’m also the Long Track Race Director of the Club. *See the attachment below for what that entails.

Fundraising. Have taken the lead on a number of fundraising efforts. Running feed stations for the Mayor’s Marathon and Gold Nugget Triathlon ($1500 and $1600), election polling station (raised $3600 for the Club in 2020), Solstice Skate hot chocolate sales ($800). Arranged for purchase and sale of Oval Pins ($900 raised for Oval ice maintenance).  Started a skate sharpening and re-radius service with all proceeds going to the Club.

Obtain liability and D&O insurance for the Club.

Obtain permits for use of the city-owned oval for races and practices.

Arrange and obtain short track indoor ice time with local rink.

Regularly clean the outdoor oval ice of any pebbles and grit brought on the ice by the mopping truck.

Assist with the inventory of Club equipment.

Rework the Club website each season with new registration information. Periodically update the website with new information.

Have you ever/do you ever compete or is skating a fun, recreational activity for you?
I race in some of the long track races we put on each season, and otherwise help run the races. We have about seven race days each season, including a marathon skate in February.

What is your favorite part about being involved in your club/the sport?
I love the speed and grace of speed skating.  And our outdoor oval has a magnificent, sweeping view of the snow-covered Chugach Mountains. So the setting is inspiring. It’s very satisfying to see new and old skaters enjoying skating the oval.

When you are not volunteering/officiating or doing skating related activities, what do you do in your other free time?
The XC skiing in Anchorage is fabulous, with many miles of interesting, challenging and beautiful groomed trails.  And Nordic skating on remote glacial lakes and tidewater sloughs is really intriguing.  And there’s other volunteer work and just hanging out.

How do you feel speed skating has benefited your life?
Speedskating is great exercise and challenge to keep improving technique.  Helping to run the Club and the long track races has presented opportunities to grow mentally and socially.  It’s been rewarding.

A lot of the feedback we hear is that volunteers/officials like the “family-atmosphere” speed skating clubs seem to provide. What is your experience?

Our club has a diverse group of members and skaters who really enjoy skating and are positive folks. We have skaters as young as 4 and as old as I am.  It’s fun to hang out with this group and grow speed skating.

What is your favorite speed skating moment?
There are lots of great moments, but I think it’s feeling good skating the eastern straightaway on the oval on fast, smooth ice with the snowy Chugach Mountains standing tall.

*Duties of AKSSC LT Race Director
1. Set race and practice schedule for LT at least 3 months prior to the start of season (by Sept 1).  Consult with Race Committee (if there is one).  Try to avoid schedule conflicts with other sporting events that skaters may participate in (such as the NSAA XC ski races).

2. One race director (either ST or LT) to provide Anchorage Daily News with ST and LT race schedules so races appear in the “In the Area” column of the sports section on day of and the day prior to the races. 

3. Apply to Fur Rondy by December 1 for races taking place during Fur Rondy, so these races can be on the Rondy schedule.

4. Get use permit from MOA Parks and Rec for the races at the Oval.  A one-hr permit has been sufficient (cost about $26/hr).  MOA requires proof of insurance, MOA as an “also insured” and insurance subrogation waiver.

5. Check to see that timing devices have batteries and paper and are working, the start gun has a supply of blanks, and the race box has sharpened pencils and working pens, has race registration forms (including emergency contact info), liability waiver forms, scorekeeping sheets, and club membership forms.  

6. Check first aid kit and have on-site (at registration table).

7. Coordinate with contractor for making and maintaining ice at the Oval to be sure the ice is ready prior to race start times.

8. Need to have ice marked with start and finish lines and lanes prior to race first LT race of the season.  This takes about 6 hrs for 2 people (measuring, marking, ice, laying in paint, misting, and filling with water).  Refresh marking as needed during the season.

9. Publicize races with notices, flyers, social media, etc. (work with Publicity board member and others). Put notices on bulletin board at the Oval and elsewhere. Work to grow speed skating and racing.

10. Send out announcements to remind skaters of races.

11. Secure volunteers ahead of time to help run the races – registration, starter, timers, scorekeeper.

12. Contact AMH for prizes for LT races and get them to race.  Have slips of paper at Oval for racers to write their names for prize drawings.  If prize/awards are to be presented to winning racers of the Duathlon, and if such awards need to be purchased, get board approval by Oct 15 so awards can be ordered.

13. Work/coordinate with Peter H. on all arrangements for Duathlon (skate/ski).. These races require more preparation and more people to run than the usual LT races.

14. Race registration begins no later than 45 minutes before the start of races.  Encourage prior online registration. Put up race/AKSSC banners.  Set-up table, lay out race entry and liability forms, and collect filled-out/signed forms and money from racers.  Write the amount paid on race entry form and check number if paying by check.  Sell Oval pins.  Provide $ to Treasurer, liability forms to Secretary, and file race entry forms.

15. Put signs on A/C streets prior to races.

16. Set out lane markers before races.

17. Check to see that the ice is generally free of grit and small stones that often drop of the grooming truck and its tires. Remove as much of these abrasive things as possible.  They wreck skate edges and can take out racers.

18. Oversee races to see that they are run efficiently and safely. 

19. Email race results to Anchorage Daily News ( after the race.  Email results to racers and club secretary and/or publicity person.

20. Assess the race schedule throughout the year and make recommendations to president/race committee when conflicts arise so decisions may be made regarding changes in race dates/times, etc.

21. Review LT portion of AKSSC web site for up-to-date and useful information about LT and LT races.

22. Coordinate with Anchorage Skates on LT races and Oval issues.