In the News

Notable Highlights from Santa Clarita Speed Skating


Coach Richard

Smart, funny, and engaging

By Brandon Lee

The Santa Clarita Speed Skating Club wants to recognize Coach Richard Atkinson for his past and present contributions.

Richard AtkinsonShort-track speed skating coach, Richard Atkinson.

For those just coming in, you might wonder: where is Coach Richard? Due to family obligations beyond anyone’s control, Coach Richard is taking care of matters larger than speed skating. He will evaluate his future role when it's appropriate.

It is my great pleasure to share my thoughts on a year of learning to speed skate with the Club and Coach Richard.

Getting Started

On a whim I decided to look up how to get started in speed skating. The Internet led me to the Santa Clarita Speed Skating Club website.

After watching an interview with Robert "Dr. Bob" Alison, I emailed him about wanting to get into speed skating. On my first visit to the club, I was greeted by Ron Halcrow, SCSSC's President, with a waiver form and a set of club skates. Next I was introduced to Coach Richard.

Level One Coach

Richard is a US Speed Skating, Level One certified coach. He has over a decade of experience both in short and long track.

From the outside Richard is smart, funny and engaging. He cares about the experience when people come out to skate for all levels and all ages.

I personally have a long background in freestyle skating. Yikes, I just ran the numbers! I have 44 years of bouncing off walls, tight turns and narrow passes. Almost none of it applies to speed skating. But, speed skating improves my strength, power and speed on hockey skates. Coach Richard told me to relax, don’t be in a hurry; enjoy the journey.

It took months for me to get to that point of relaxation. I'm pacing myself. Now I see, I'm at the beginning of the path. I'm settled in, work harder to relax, and the improvements are incremental. Now with time I'm starting to feel it.

Mentor and Friend

Shortly after starting my speed skating journey, I asked Coach Richard to coffee after skating to ask more questions. That coffee turned into friendship, and one I value greatly. I find myself aligned with his goals and passion of speed skating. It lead me to take a trip to Utah to skate on the long track at the Olympic Oval.

After a few months, Coach Richard and I started arriving early, around 6 am, to set up pads and do warm-ups before skating. I can hear Coach Richard in my head when I skate, “Slow it down." "What if it were in slow motion?" "Breathe." "Get lower.” “Walk sideways up the stairs."

Learning and Fun

For me it’s not just the coaching I'm grateful for. Coach Richard finds ways to inject fun into learning. That, in turn, makes coming out to skate more fulling.

I will enjoy any opportunity to share the ice with Coach Richard. So while he is away—for now, I'm still at the rink early every time.

Brandon Lee, "Skate Ambasador" and Founder of The Craft of Skating.