Skating for Gold:
Wisconsin's Olympic Speed Skaters, 1976-2006
Peter Mueller (b. 1954)
Madison and Mequon, Wisconsin
Skates worn by Peter Mueller when he won his gold medal at the 1976 Olympics.
Source: Paul Mueller.
As a child Peter saw other children speed skating in races held at Madison's Tenney and Vilas Parks and wanted to join them. Officials told the six-year-old that he was too young, but his father Paul talked them into letting Peter race with the seven-year-olds. Peter amazed everyone by winning.
Within a year or two Paul Mueller and a handful of others created the Madison Speed Skating Club, which eventually produced stars such as Eric and Beth Heiden and Casey FitzRandolph.
After the Muellers moved to Mequon, Peter's winning ways continued, and he earned the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics. In 1977 he came in second at the World Championships, beaten only by the invincible Eric Heiden. The same year he married Leah Poulos, a silver medalist at the 1976 and 1980 Olympics.
After retiring in 1980, Peter began his coaching career. He coached a professional Dutch team, then Olympic medal winners Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen. Peter coached the Norwegian team in the 2006 Olympics.