Is U.S. Bank Stadium Unspeedskateable?

Since the Dome was needlessly and recklessly demolished a couple of years ago to satisfy a billionaire with felonious tendencies and a demented millionaire, I have had pretty low expectations that inline skating in the new stadium would rank very high on the list of priorities in Ziggy’s playland.  But upon touring the stadium I regret to inform you that Metrodome style dueling paceline speedskating and marathon racing will be all but impossible in the new stadium due to narrow corridors and pillar placement. The lower level concourse narrows to about ten feet in places and has sharp edges jutting out with pillars to navigate.  In addition there are expansion joints on the floor that jut up half an inch or so and are a foot and a half wide (12/14: not anymore – see updates below).  At 20+ mph it would look more like roller derby than speedskating.  The upper concourse, only a portion of which was open for the tour, was not measurably better.  A billion dollars in taxpayer money just doesn’t buy what it used to.

That rant aside – from a purely recreational skater standpoint (i.e. the Metrodome’s lower level folks with kids having a good time and new skaters stretching their legs and getting the hang of things) it will still be a useful forum. Click here for the photo gallery.

Rubber expansion joints have been replaced my metal joints that are easier to skate over

UPDATE: 12/14/2016

Last night was the first night of public USB skating.  Skate organizers advise they intend to add more skating dates. More importantly they also plan to provide a separate skate time for speedskating. He said future skating sessions could be “family” skates from 5-8, and then speedskating from 8-9. The skating surface was slippery. I was wearing Matter Code Reds and would slip if I tried to push to far to the side.   The 1/2 inch rubber expansion joints have been replaced with metal expansion joints. Skating over them is very loud, but is comparable to typical trail impediments. It does help to alert skaters to others in their presence. There were quite a few people there, but a lap is substantially longer than the Dome, so typically people are spread out.  There were NO announcements about slower skaters staying to the right, there were no announcements, there were no warnings to slow down, no warnings against pacelines, no one yelling at people to not walk from the seating area across the track to look into the stadium bowl, no skate monitors to police behavior at all. Twice I came around the first corner, which is fairly blind, and skaters were coming at me going the wrong way. They had over skated the seating area and rather than making another lap, they turned around. If they don’t know better and no one is there to prevent it then someone is going to get hurt. There are blind corners and narrow sections. If you had a head of steam going and came through those areas and there was traffic or a skater down you have very few options due to the pillars.  The general consensus from other skaters seemed to be that it wasn’t what we were used to, but that it was better than nothing, and generally better than expected – but nothing like the Dome.

Click here for the full review of the first night.

US Bank Stadium indoor running and rollerblading dates (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

December 13, 20, 27
January 3, 17, 18, 31
February 3, 6, 21, 23, 27
March 1, 6, 9, 13

Etiquette Reminders

  • Slower Skaters Stay To the Right
  • Alert Other Skaters To Obstacles
  • Pass ONLY on the left
  • Announce “Passing” or “On Your Left” when approaching slower skaters
  • Be Aware of Others Around you
  • Wear A Damn Helmet – it ought to be required
  • Wear wrist guards
  • Skate only Counterclockwise
  • Do not walk across the track to look into the lower bowl when other skaters are present
  • Pay attention when leaving the seating area – do not walk in front of skaters
  • No backpacks while skating
  • No headphones while skating
  • No cell phones while skating
  • Stay Out of the way of the Skater In Shoulder Pads


UPDATE: 11/22/2016

The Trib reports that 300 tickets will be sold for the first night of skating at USB Stadium.   Skaters seeking to skate slowly, dodge pillars, jump over expansion joints, or worship at the shrine of Ziggy are advised to purchase them in advance, beginning on November 29. Tickets are $10 for three hours (recall that in prior reporting they stated runners would be charged $3).

Tuesday, December 13th from 5-8:00 PM is the first skating opportunity.  Tickets will be available at the stadium ticket office – not online. Tickets, if any remain, will be sold at the door.  No rental equipment will be available.  No free parking.

Click here for the Trib story.

UPDATED 10/21/2016:


The Last Plyos Session

Most sports fans are familiar with the Billy Goat curse, the curse of the Bambino, and numerous other curses. Added to the list of curses now is the Rollerblader’s Revenge – the Vikings shall never win a Championship in this stadium. They have been cursed; Teddy and Adrian’s knees are just the first examples.

“Big news” broke today regarding inline skating in the new stadium. Admission to U.S. Bank Stadium for runners will be $3. Pricing for inliners has not been set, but there will be no rentals. Skating, which used to be at least four days a week, will now be one day. Skating used to occupy two levels, with slower skaters separated for elite skaters. Skaters now will all use one level, and runners will use one level. But hey, you will have a great view of birds smashing into glass as you navigate the narrow spaces between giant pillars and stumble over expansion joints.

One has to feel for the staff of the Rollerdome and all those who advocated on behalf of inline in the new stadium. The end result is not their fault.

US Bank Stadium indoor running and rollerblading dates (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

December 13, 20, 27
January 3, 17, 18, 31
February 3, 6, 21, 23, 27
March 1, 6, 9, 13

Click here for the local media coverage, so you can hear the bad news presented as something cheerful:

  • Fox9
  • MPR (I was sent the link for this story – this was my first time on that website, honest)

Winter Is Coming – Try Speedskating

Uttke, Twigs, and Dunfee

Learn To Skate Opportunities

Perhaps you held out hope the new stadium would be your new winter skating home.  Those hopes have been dashed – read about it here.  Now is the time to think about trying ice speedskating.  Try short track and long track skating sessions are available or will be soon. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity. Even if you don’t intend to take it up long term this is an easy way to say you have done it, or to give a kid a chance to try.  The Greater Minnesota Speedskating Association (GMSA) will be hosting the Try Speedskating events, and participating in talent searches involving local youth hockey players and figures skaters.  If you know someone that might be interested see the e-mail addresses below.

Short Track

Adults & Children: Every Sunday night at the Plymouth Ice Center .   Skates will be provided and highly skilled skaters, such as Greg Oly and Alex Harvey, will be available to provide technique instruction.

  • Ice time for open Speedskating at Plymouth ice center is 7:45pm to 8:45pm every Sunday night
  • We have equipment (skates, helmets gloves, kneepads, …) for people, who want to give it a try, but don’t want to invest in equipment immediately
  • Cost for 2 trial sessions is $20 including all equipment and coaching
  • Cost for full season pass is $350 (21 sessions)

Long Track

Adult and children: Oval ice is set to open on November 11th.  Those interested in trying long track should contact one of the following GMSA board members for details:

  • Ulrich Fink:
  • Sheeree Mehring:

Andy Uttke's first time on ice speedskates. Melissa Dahlmann coaching. My first lap on ice.

Getting Starting in Masters Speedskating

All you really need to get started in masters speedskating is a pair of skates, some ice . . . and at least 30 years of living under your belt! If you grew up skating and are now getting back into it after a “life gets in the way” break, you can probably skip this section and go right to the specifics about the current Masters skating scene in Minnesota and nationally. If you are intrigued by speedskating although you have never done it, but anxious to give it a try, here is some information that might help you get going.

  • What type of skating?

First, there are three types of speedskating: short track (think Apolo Ohno); long track (think Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair – or Shani Davis (for those not as old as Kaari); and marathon skating (think…well, no one you’ve ever heard of! Marathon skating is crazy and fun, but a small sport. ) Long track skating takes place on a 400 meter oval, and there are not many of these. The big ones in the US are in Roseville, MN (outdoor), West Allis , WI (covered), and Salt Lake City, UT (covered); Canada has indoor ovals in Calgary, Alberta and Fort St. John, BC. However, there are some smaller “unofficial” ovals in other locations such as Duluth MN; and many Canadian cities have official-size but unrefrigerated outdoor 400 meter ovals. Short track is done on hockey rinks, and is therefore available in many more locations than is long track. Marathon skating is done either on long track ovals or on lake ice. Bemidji MN has had a lake ice marathon race as recently as a couple of years ago, but more marathons arebeing held in indoor ovals such as the Pettit National Ice center in West Allis, Wi.

Short track, long track, and marathon speedskating, of course, all have their own types of racing. Short track races are almost exclusively “pack style”—that is, you’ll be lining up on the starting line with up to six other people, which means that strategy and passing are a large component of short track racing. Short track races are typically 500-3000 meters for adults. Long track races may be either “pack style” (also called “mass start”) or “metric” (also called “Olympic style.”). In pack style long track, as in short track, strategy, drafting, and passing come into play. In metric style racing, two skaters race at a time and each has his or her own lane so there is no opportunity to draft off of a competitor, and the skaters are all racing against the clock. Long track races are typically 500-5000 meters, and rarely 10,000 meters. Marathon races are pack style, and may be up to 50K long.

  • Skates and Other equipment

Even if you never intend to race, you need to know what type of speedskating you will be doing because the equipment is different for long track, short track, and (possibly) marathon skating. Long track skating is done on “clap” skates, in which the heel of the skate boot is free to lift off the blade during the skating stroke (although some beginning skaters choose to learn on “fixed blade” skates and then graduate to claps as they become familiar with the technique). Short track skates have fixed blades (that is, the heel of the boot does not lift up from the blade) and generally higher, stiffer boots. Both short track and long track blades can be mounted on some inline skate boots, depending on the type of mounting style the boots have.

Marathon or lake ice skaters use long track skates or “Nordic” skates, which are blades that fasten to cross-country ski boots with cross country ski bindings. Nordic skates are not as light and supportive as regular long track skates, but are extremely warm and comfortable, and very stable on rough lake ice. Whatever type of skating you do and whatever type of skates you need, though, be sure they fit properly and are comfortable. Starting out with well-fitting, appropriate skates is a huge step in the right direction!

Other than skates, and clothing appropriate to the climate conditions, you’ll need skate guards that fit long blades—speedskates are hand sharpened, which means you’ll be sharpening them, which means that you want to keep them as sharp as possible by never walking in them without guards. You’ll also, of course, need equipment to sharpen your skates—a clamp to hold the skates, called a jig; and sharpening stones. See the section below for links to places to get skates, skate guards, jigs, and stones. For information on how to sharpen skates, it’s probably best to ask a local skater to show you their technique. Most fellow masters skaters will be happy to help out!

  • Getting started

If you will be skating short track, you will need to find a local club with short track skating practice sessions. It is important to have padding on the hockey rink boards when you skate, so it’s best to find a club (who will put up pads for their sessions) and join them. Many short track clubs are open to beginners of all ages, and will help you learn the basics of speedskating . See the “links” section for information on Minnesota short track clubs.

If you will be skating long track, you will need to find out when speedskaters have practice time on the local oval. Generally, it is very difficult to try to speedskate at public skating times (and some ovals actually prohibit it, although if you are a beginner and aren’t regularly knocking down small children, they may let you do it). In Minnesota, the John Rose Oval has several “adult long blade” sessions per week; typically these are during the early afternoon or late night. If you join the Greater Minnesota Speedskating Association, you will have access to the GMSA ice time, which is typically three nights and two weekend mornings per week. See the GMSA website and look for the “Important Forms” section.

Even if you’ve done some hockey or figure skating and are pretty confident on skates, it’s best to look for a “learn to speedskate” class. Speedskating is an excellent lifetime sport and a lot of fun, but it can be frustrating at first and it’s good to have an understanding of the basics to help you learn as quickly as possible. See the section on Clubs and Classes at the John Rose Oval below for information on speedskating classes.

If you will be marathon skating, you will either skate on a long track oval or a lake. Again, if you are a beginner it might be helpful to start with a class; otherwise, if you’re skating on a lake, just get out there and skate—and be careful!

  • Wanna race?

Sooner or later, you may decide that you want to see how fast you can go. If you’re involved in short track, your club will let you know about upcoming races. Typically, local short track races will either have a class for masters, or will divide skaters by ability and you may skate with some younger people.

If you skate long track, pack style races are usually divided by age groups, but again, if there are no other masters available you may skate against younger skaters. Pack style involves racing strategy as well as speed, since skating closely behind another skater (“drafting”) allows you to conserve your energy and thus a “cat and mouse” situation sometimes develops in which all the skaters are trying to maneuver each other into taking the lead—especially at a windy outdoor oval! In metric racing, you simply go as fast as you can (no drafting or race strategy, since you are each in your own lane except when you switch lanes each lap) and see who gets the best time. In metric races, skaters are typically paired with someone of similar speed, regardless of age. See the section below for information on the types of racing that your local long track oval offers.

There are also masters-specific long track events. These are typically open to masters skaters of all ability levels, and racers compete in 5-year age groups from 30 on up. Some of the races are metric and some are pack. All are great places to meet other masters skaters, enjoy some good competition, and just generally have a great time!

If you want to race marathons, click here is a list of current races. Marathon races are typically two-day events, with a 25 km race on Saturday and a 50km race on Sunday. They are pack style races, in which finding a “pace line” and exchanging the lead with others is the best way to go fast.

For more specific information on racing in Minnesota, go to the section on Masters Long Track Racing Opportunities

  • Inliners, come on in!

Many speedskaters (both Olympic athletes like Derek Parra and Chad Hedrick, as well as many masters skaters) began as inliners. Inline skating is great summer cross-training for speedskating (or, if you’re primarily an inliner, speedskating is great winter cross-training for inlining). The John Rose Oval is open for inlining (and free!) from May through September. You may even be able to put clap or short track blades on your inline boots. However, a word to experienced inline racers: long track speedskating, while similar to inlining in many ways, does require some adjustments to your technique (especially if you’re primarily a double-push skater). It may be frustrating at first, because your fitness and inline experience will not necessarily translate to speed until you get the technique mastered—but stick with it, it’s worth it!

Masters Long Track Racing Opportunities

  • Events

For Minnesota masters long track skaters who are interested in racing, there are a variety of opportunities. The most low-key, and the best place to start for those new to racing, is the Saturday morning metric/pack style racing at the John Rose Oval. Typically several different distances will be offered each week. For more information on the Saturday races, contact Kaari Cox at


The John Rose Oval also hosts several racing meets each season. The John Rose Open, typically held in December, is a pack style meet open to all abilities, and it has specific classes for masters skaters. The John Rose Oval also hosts one of the American Cup Racing Series meets each year; this is a metric event that typically has a qualifying time requirement. It is open to masters skaters who meet the time standard, but does not have specific masters classes. The John Rose Oval also frequently hosts the National Age-Group Long Track Speedskating Championships. This is a pack style event that determines the National Champions in age groups from kids through 70+. There is no qualifying time for competing in this meet.


Those with a bit more racing experience might want to go to the Pettit National Ice Center in West Allis, WI. The Pettit offers a variety of racing opportunties, including weekend time trials (metric) as well as metric and pack style meets.

There are also some masters-specific racing opportunities available. The US Masters Single Distance Championships are held at the Pettit National Ice Center every January. This event determines the National champions in 5-year age groups from 30 to 80+, but is an inclusive event open to any and all masters skaters who want to race. In addition, the Pettit has been the host of the Masters International meet (which varies between pack and metric style racing) for many years.

For those who are willing to travel farther afield, the Masters Allround Games and Masters Sprint Games (known to masters skaters as “Masters Worlds”) are held yearly, often in Europe but occasionally in the US or Canada. These events feature the top masters skaters from around the world, but there are no qualifying time standards and typically the US has a large enough quota that any US skaters who wish to may participate.

  • Mat 1

Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of masters skaters and the support of US Speedskating, the US has a unique program for masters skaters. Called Masters Category 1, or Mat 1, it is an honorary elite designation for masters skaters. Mat 1 status is achieved by skating (in any official metric event) a time equal to or better than 108% of the International Masters Speedskating Committee Record for the current year in one’s age group. Mat 1 skaters receive, at no or very low cost, a skinsuit from US Speedskating each year they qualify for Mat 1—along with the knowledge that they are among the best skaters of their age in the world.

The Minnesota Masters Speedskating Scene


  • Long Track Facilities

The John Rose Minnesota Oval is an outdoor long track facility in Roseville, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul). It is an outdoor oval, but is refrigerated and thus is typically open for skating from early November through the first weekend in March. There is open speedskating available on weekdays in the afternoon, and late night sessions. The Greater Minnesota Speedskating Association (GMSA) also has practice ice time on Tues/Wed/Thurs nights, as well as pack and metric style racing most Saturdays and practice ice time Sundays. In order to access the GMSA time (which is when most speedskaters practice), you must join the GMSA. For more information on joining GMSA and accessing their ice time, go to

There is also a long track oval in Duluth. This oval is shorter than 400 meters, and is not refrigerated so the Duluth season is a bit shorter than the Roseville season. For more information on speedskating in the Duluth area, go to

  • Short track facilities and clubs

The Plymouth Wayzata Speedskating Club offers short track skating and racing for children and adults. They skate in Plymouth, MN. For more information go to

  • Clubs and classes at the John Rose Oval

For a list of other clubs besides MMSS: see GMSA

The City of Roseville typically offers adult Learn to Speedskate lessons throughout the winter City of Roseville’s current Community Education brochure or call Kevin at the Oval 651-792-7122

These lessons are a great way to learn the basics of speedskating, and they typically offer skate rental for those who don’t yet have equipment. Those who haven’t skated much, or at all, should take a “learn to skate” class (offered at hockey rinks in many communities) before taking the oval’s Learn to Speedskate class.

Important Links: