Michael Keye-Schuler leads a speed skating clinic at Treadwell Arena on Nov. 30, 2019. Keye-Schuler co-hosted Juneau’s first-ever short-track speed skating class with former competitive speed skater Andrew Dyke of Michigan on Nov. 24, 30 and Dec. 1. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Michael Keye-Schuler leads a speed skating clinic at Treadwell Arena on Nov. 30, 2019. Keye-Schuler co-hosted Juneau’s first-ever short-track speed skating class with former competitive speed skater Andrew Dyke of Michigan on Nov. 24, 30 and Dec. 1. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

This Juneau man loves speed skating. Now he’s spreading that passion to others.

Michael Keye-Schuler leads three-session class at Treadwell Arena

A competitive cyclist, Michael Keye-Schuler got his start in speed skating over a decade ago while living in Ketchikan. He moved to Juneau about five years ago in part for the additional outdoor skating opportunities, and he logs several thousand kilometers every winter on various lakes.

Now, he’s hoping to spread that same dedication and enthusiasm to others.

The Ketchikan transplant led Juneau’s first-ever speed skating clinic over the past two weekends, taking over a dozen adults and youth under his wing to learn some of the basics of the sport.

“I think it’s a great sport because it’s non-contact, it’s strengthening, it’s great for your balance,” Keye-Schuler said in an interview after the second of three clinics. “So I want to believe that there’s a lot of people in town that have kids that want to skate but they don’t want to play hockey and they’re not really interested in figure skating.”

Michael Keye-Schuler leads a speed skating clinic at Treadwell Arena on Nov. 30, 2019. Keye-Schuler co-hosted Juneau’s first-ever short-track speed skating class with former competitive speed skater Andrew Dyke on Nov. 24, 30 and Dec. 1. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Michael Keye-Schuler leads a speed skating clinic at Treadwell Arena on Nov. 30, 2019. Keye-Schuler co-hosted Juneau’s first-ever short-track speed skating class with former competitive speed skater Andrew Dyke on Nov. 24, 30 and Dec. 1. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Keye-Schuler and co-instructor Andrew Dyke have each competed nationally in the sport, which has been an Olympic Winter Games staple since 1924. Up until recently, there were no loaner speed skates in town. That changed this year. A Vancouver, British Columbia, speed skating club wrote on social media that its old club skates were in need of a new home. Key-Schuler asked if they would be willing to send a few pairs to Juneau.

“They said you can have them all,” Keye-Schuler said. “They sent me 22 pairs of skates. I paid for shipping, and they sent these 22 pairs of skates. And they’re not high-end skates, they’re club skates, but at this level, it’s just a gift to have them. The rink is housing them here.”

Celia Wheeler was one of a handful of youth on the ice Saturday. A member of the Juneau Nordic Ski Team, Wheeler said the speed skating felt similar to Nordic skiing.

“It’s very similar to skate skiing because you have to do the whole balancing on one leg,” Wheeler, 16, said. “But it’s just more drawn out and lower to the ground.”

On her second-ever speed skate, Wheeler already seemed moderately comfortable making crossover turns.

“I’ve learned more about weight transfer and really getting on one side of your body,” she said

Fellow participant Zuzana Culakova was also noticeably advanced in making turns. She said the sport is relatively accessible is her hometown of Rochester, New York, where she’s speed skated a few times.

“Because of the offset on your blade, it’s really hard to do crossovers if you’re not going fast enough,” she said, “but it’s also really scary to do crossovers when you’re moving faster than you’re comfortable. So it’s a balancing act.”

Keye-Schuler spent countless hours to master skills like the crossover.

At one of his common skating haunts in Ketchikan, Ward Lake, Keye-Schuler used his professional background as a surveyor to layout precise short-tracks.

“I would lay out these official short tracks kind of like we did this morning and just skate circles as long as there was ice,” Keye-Schuler said. “In 2010, I started getting more interested in pursuing it and started racing long track at a Master’s national level, which is what I really focus on now.”

Dyke learned speed skating in a much more structured environment. The 22-year grew up in Michigan where a speed skating club attracted about 60 individuals, and he competed in various national competitions. Dyke is thrilled to pick it up again after moving to town earlier this year for an engineering job.

“I was probably skating as soon as I could walk practically,” he said.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


More in Sports

Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé senior Cooper Kriegmont shoots during a basketball game against Ketchikan on Friday,  Jan. 22, 2021. Kriegmont scored his 1,000th point during the two-game series. (Courtesy photo / Lexie Razor)
Good to be back: Short run up leads to mixed results against Ketchikan

“It doesn’t matter what the outcomes were,.”

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, right, wearing a bib with ExxonMobil lettering on it, congratulates Peter Kaiser on his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor as the Iditarod prepares for a scaled-back version of this year’s race because of the pandemic, officials said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. ExxonMobil confirmed to The Associated Press that the oil giant will drop its sponsorship of the race. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
ExxonMobil becomes latest sponsor to sever Iditarod ties

The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor.

High school basketball will see the boys Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé and the girls of Thunder Mountain High School square off against Ketchikan beginning Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Back in battery: JDHS coach talks return of boy’s team to court

JDHS’ boys team and THMS girls will play Ketchikan beginning Friday evening.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire 
High school basketball games in Juneau will resume with empty bleachers on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 as local teams face off against Ketchikan.
Basketball teams get ready to rumble after shortened preseason

The audience will be at home, but basketball is basketball.

Winter sports enthusiasts set up for a run at Eaglecrest Ski Area. (Eaglecrest Ski Area)
Maybe it’s raining at sea level, but Eaglecrest is chillin’

Get up there. Good weekday conditions precede a rough forecast for the weekend.

A dipper has captured two small fish. (Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Even at solstice time, wildlife is everywhere

Sometimes you don’t need to even leave the house to see something interesting.

Allison Smith, a member of the Juneau Nordic Ski Club, passes another skier on her way along Montana Creek Road. Ski trails around Juneau will soon be hiding clues for Juneau Nordic Ski Club's ski-o’cache event. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
Grab your skis and phone — it’s time for ski-o’caching

Juneau’s Nordic Ski Club offers a new event

Thomas Waerner, of Norway, arrives in Nome in March to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be about 140 miles shorter than normal as a result of complications stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, race officials announced Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. The teams will no longer embark on a 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) journey to Nome but instead will take a roughly 860-mile (1,384-kilometer) loop that starts and ends in Willow. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
2021 Iditarod race in Alaska to be about 140 miles shorter

Associated Press ANCHORAGE — The 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will… Continue reading

Eaglecrest Ski Area, seen above, is delaying its opening until colder weather and snowfall replenish areas affected by warm temperatures and heavy rainfall. (Courtesy photo / Chris Miller)
Eaglecrest opens for the season

The ski area will be open almost every day through Jan. 10

This June 2015 photo shows an overall view of the Staten Island Yankees in action against the State College Spikes at Richmond County Bank Ballpark during a minor league baseball game in Staten Island, N.Y. The owners of the Staten Island Yankees announced in a statement Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, that with “great regret, we must cease operations.” They also said they were suing the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball “to hold those entities accountable for false promises” that they would always keep the team as a farm club. (AP Photo / Gregory Payan)
From Cape Cod to Alaska, college leagues eye MLB changes

By JAKE SEINER AP Sports Writer Years before he became commissioner of… Continue reading

Victor Martinez is awarded the Alaska Fighting Championship bantamweight title on Feb. 26 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Maria Bundy)
Hitting the big time: Soldotna man signs 4-fight deal with UFC

He will take his 7-2 professional record into a UFC Fight Night 181 matchup.

Members of the Juneau Ski Club take ski during a Sunday recreation day. (Courtesy photo / Frankie Pillifant)
Nordic Ski Club and teams prepare to ski into season

It’s easy to distance skiing on the trails.