Milwaukee speedskaters depart from Pettit Center for Sochi

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Milwaukee speedskaters depart from Pettit Center for Sochi

By Jessie Garcia. CREATED Jan 20, 2014

It's time for 10 Sochi-bound Wisconsin speedskaters to make sure they have their passport, and time to kiss goodbye - for now - to Milwaukee's Pettit National Ice Center.

Literally.  (At least the Pettit's ice surface.)

Emotions flowed at the Pettit Center and skaters/coaches shared hugs, pictures and a few final laps before heading to the Olympics.

"I'd like to say bye, and I'll see you guys when I get back in seven weeks," said Emery Lehman, a high school student from Chicago who trains in Milwaukee.

"Goodbye, Milwaukee.  Goodbye, Pettit.  Thanks for everything," added Jonathan Kuck.

"I don't even know how many laps I must have skated here over the past couple of years.  Finally, we're leaving for Sochi," explained Brian Hansen.

"It's bittersweet.  I'm sad, but I'm also really excited because the biggest month is yet to come."

There was even a moment for Hansen to kiss the ice.

Some skaters don't know what the future will hold.  Will they make another four-year run after these Games?  It's hard to say, so they need to savor the moment and the memories now.

"Thanks, Milwaukee," expressed Hansen.  "The Pettit and Milwaukee have treated me well all these past couple of years.  I wouldn't want to have it any other way."

The U.S. Speedskating Team has already departed for Germany for processing.  They'll head to Italy for training before winding up in Sochi.

Jay Sorgi contributed to this report.

Jessie Garcia

Jessie Garcia

Jessie joined TODAY'S TMJ4 in June of 1994, after two years at WISC-TV in Madison. She's been the sideline reporter for preseason Packers games on TODAY'S TMJ4 since 2003.