MILWAUKEE -- As the only man to win two Olympic gold medals in the 1,000 meters, plus a pair of silver medals in the 1,500, Shani Davis already has taken his place among the greatest middle-distance speedskaters in history.
Peter Mueller hopes to help Davis reach even greater heights.
Mueller, 56, a Madison, Wis., native and gold-medal winner in the 1,000 at the 1976 Winter Games, recently started coaching Davis, a Chicago native who lives in Milwaukee and trains at the Pettit National Ice Center.
Mueller brings a wealth of experience to the ice -- most recently he spent six years coaching Norway's national team -- but he admits Davis doesn't need much help.
"I've been with a lot of great skaters, but he's got the best feeling (for the ice) of any skater I've ever seen in my life," Mueller said. "He's just got that feel and that mentality, too. He hates to lose.
"I'm his coach, but I'm not going to change his program. It works for him."
Davis and other top U.S. long-track skaters will be in action Friday through Sunday at the American Cup I at the Pettit Center. The competition serves as the fall World Cup qualifier.
Skating begins at 10 a.m. daily, with men competing in the 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 5,000 and women racing in the 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000. There is no charge for admission.
Among the skaters scheduled to compete are Brian Hansen, Jonathan Kuck and Trevor Marsicano, who teamed to win the silver medal in the men's team pursuit in Vancouver.
Other 2010 Olympians entered include Ryan Bedford, Rebekah Bradford, Lauren Cholewinski, Tucker Fredricks, Maria Lamb, Heather Richardson, Jilleanne Rookard, Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. and Mitch Whitmore.
For Davis, 28, a three-time Olympian, the races are a mere formality. Of more interest is his form after taking some much-deserved time off following the Vancouver Games and the early returns on his work with Mueller.
On the horizon is a possible showdown with Dutch star Sven Kramer at the World Allround Championships, Feb. 11-13, in Calgary.
"We're going to try to expand the program," Mueller said. "I think if he does that, we have to do it slowly. We only have six months and we've only been together now for about five weeks. You can't change it overnight."
Mueller helped recruit Davis for CBA, a Norwegian banking company which is sponsoring Davis and two Swedish skaters.
"Shani is the best middle-distance skater in the world," Mueller said. "It's good publicity for CBA in Norway and Holland. I think it's good for Shani. He's making a little bit of money. And I think it's good for Shani and myself to be working together. It's a win-win situation for everybody involved."
Mueller, whose family moved to Mequon when he was a teen so he could train on the old outdoor oval at State Fair Park, has coached American, Dutch and Norwegian skaters to Olympic medals and international titles.
He coached Bonnie Blair to two gold medals at the 1992 Olympics and Dan Jansen to gold in the 1,000 in '94. Then he coached Dutch stars Marianne Timmer, Jan Bos and Gianni Romme to Olympic medals before being widely praised for resurrecting Norway's slumping program.
But he was fired in November, 2009, after Norwegian skater Maren Haugli accused him of sexual harassment for comments he made about her at a team breakfast.
Mueller apologized, saying he meant the comments as a joke, but the Norwegian federation immediately dismissed him.
Now he's back in the sport he loves, trying to help a two-time Olympic champion become even better.
"It's good to be back in the business," he said. "It's exciting to work with Shani. I've learned a lot from him and I think I can bring something to the table for him, also."