Growing up in Madison, WI, Duane Riley was never far from an ice rink. In 1946, at the age of eight, Duane first tried speedskating at a neighborhood rink. “I always enjoyed competition and it was a series of races organized by the city — east side vs. west side — that drew me to the sport.” Speedskating soon became a family affair as Duane’s parents, eager to support their son’s new sport, restarted the Madison Speed Skating Club. “Thanks to my parent’s involvement, I was able to train and skate with some of speedskating’s greats including Bill Carow and members of the 1956 and 1960 Olympic team.” Duane went on to win numerous medals competing on the Amateur Speedskating Union (ASU) circuit, including U.S. Nationals and the North American Championships. Following his successful skating career, Duane married Elayne in 1959 and had three children. When his children began skating in 1965, Duane returned to the ice, however this time as an official. Quickly rising in the officiating ranks, Duane became a National Assistant Referee in 1973, then a National Referee in 1980. Soon, he became an International Speedskating Union (ISU) Championship Referee working numerous World Cup and World Championship events, and officiating at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. Duane worked as a firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Madison Fire Department for 23 years, and spent an additional 15 years as an armed guard for Brinks Armored Cars.
A committed volunteer, Duane became a member of the Madison Speed Skating Club in 1964, and served as its president. He was vice president of the ASU for six years, serving as the organization’s president for two years, and was instrumental in ASU’s transition to US Speedskating. Duane devoted countless hours to coaching children with intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics’ speedskating programs. Off the ice, Duane enjoyed spending time with Elayne, also a prominent speedskating official, and his family in Sun Prairie, WI. He enjoyed softball, football, and relaxing on his houseboat along the Mississippi River.
“Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways I’ve had from my involvement with this sport has been the friendships I’ve developed with the people I’ve worked with. It has been an honor to watch athletes like Eric and Beth Heiden, Dan Jansen, Casey FitzRandolph, and most recently Apolo Anton Ohno, grow up in this sport.” Looking ahead Duane saw growth on the horizon for the sport of speedskating. “It’s one of the greatest sports to get involved in. There’s something in it for the whole family. If you have young children competing, as a parent you can get involved as a coach or an official. I am thankful that my family had the opportunity to be involved in the sport at so many levels.”
Duane was inducted into the Speedskating Hall of Fame on May 1, 2010 at Richmond, Virginia.
Duane passed away on September 1, 2015