aUSA speed skating has come a long way--there’s no denying it--and it would be safe to say that the sport encountered somewhat of a jolt around 1991 with the inclusion of inline skates changing the sport in many ways. One cannot help but wonder if Chad Hedrick would have done what he did (52-time inline world champion and Olympic gold medalist on long track ice) on quad skates had inlines never been introduced. Would Joey Mantia then have come along and won 28 world titles on quads? The best in the U.S and in the world on quads weren’t necessarily destined to dominate on inline skates, and only a few actually proved that either on quads or inlines they were still the world’s best! The Muse name in roller sports has been around for generations, but there’s one Muse brother known as the “KING of Quads.” We often forget who actually first ruled the inline scene on USA flat track speed skating, winning two consecutive U.S championships in Senior Men (92’ and 93’) and multiple world titles, all on inline skates, leaving not just some big wins but a legacy.
|(Above; Dante Muse 1985 cover shot for Sports Illustrated|
p.s. look at the height of that pylon!)
|(Above race action Indoor Nationals from left Carr, Glass & Muse - |
Notice Dante's left skate after a double late pass)
(above, Dante's coach & older brother Mark Muse 'left' & younger brother Tony Muse 'right')
With the hype of inline skates and everything changing literally overnight, one thing was certain-- the playing field had definitely been leveled in world class men. Hundreds of skaters became competitive in all divisions because the sport had just changed forever! So what happened to the King? Had he accomplished everything and retired from speed on his terms? I caught up with him recently, and here’s my interview with 14-time world champion, the "KING" Dante Muse.
(PS) So to start with the above about still winning on inlines before you slowly retired from the speed skating scene altogether and more toward life, family, a little aggressive skating, why do you think a lot of people have forgotten that you actually were winning at the world level ON INLINES before you officially took your speed skates off?
|(above from right: Scott Hiatt, Doug Glass, Dante Muse, Derek Parra, Tony Muse @ the Orlando Classic)|
(PS) When you read things like "Hedrick ended the Muses’ careers" or "the Muses tried to keep him off the team" blah blah blah, does that get under your skin at all?
(PS) When speaking of quad speed skating, your name rolls off the tongue first, especially when talking to ex-quad speed skaters. Do you think being the KING of quads is the reason why most forget about your inline success?
(DM) I believe so, but again it was new, plus sponsorships and there was just a lot going on.
|(Above from left Tony Muse, Dante Muse, Derek Parra 1991 Belgium World Championships)|
(above, 1986 Australia World Championships, Dante Muse leads the way)
(PS) You won 14 world titles in your skating career: how many were quads and how many were inlines?
(PS) Guess I’ll look that up for you. And it’s nine on quads and five on inlines.
(PS) Do you look at those differently today or is a gold medal a gold medal? When thinking about that era of transition to inlines, what memory comes to mind first?
(DM) Each title has a special memory for sure. When I think about the time of transition I remember no one really knew how to skate correctly and one thing was for sure, it is opposite of quads!!!
(PS) When inlines were first introduced to our sport, I remember reading somewhere that you had made a comment (not favorable) about inlines and later had to apologize for it, but what did you really think when all this was taking place, especially since you were THE MAN at the time?
(PS) What was the game plan for your team and Des Moines West when you guys realized just as well as we all did that without inlines you were not going to win races?
(PS) I don't think a lot of people know or remember this but you had a lot of trouble transitioning to inlines due to the mere fact that you have severe pronation, especially on your right foot. That thing caves or falls in about 40 percent compared to a normal foot. Nonetheless you still found a way to win. We know that you probably would have ridden your success wave a little while longer had it not been for this particular circumstance that you couldn’t control. Thoughts?
(PS) We rarely witnessed you fall in races even when people would fall around you or try to knock you down. How were you so agile on quads and inlines?
(DM) I learned to skate before I could walk literally. My brothers and sisters used to put skates on me and pull me around in my saucer walker. My father was my first coach. Our house was built into our first rink, so I REALLY grew up on skates. I did all disciplines until I was 11 or so, then I chose just racing. My father really broke down the structure of weight transfer and body structure. I believe that it was the combination of growing up on skates mixed with some God-given talent.
(PS) You stopped skating indoor speed well before you retired from the sport altogether-- is that an accurate statement? Can you get more specific as to what those timelines were or the reasons behind them?
(DM) My last world championships were in 1994 in France. I continued racing occasionally outdoors for my sponsors I had at the time. I also was flown to Italy, South Africa, and Australia to teach and help their programs. My last indoor race was in 1996 indoor nationals. I competed on both quads and inlines. I believe I completely retired in ‘98 or ‘99.
(above: last Orlando Classic in 1991 on quad skates, Muse in middle on 1st)
(PS) Speaking of sponsorships, you started and skated most of your career well before sponsorships were a part of our sport. You were fortunate to get a taste of both, but mostly 'no sponsorships.' How do you think sponsorships have affected our sport? Do you keep up with speed at all these days?
(PS) Occasional race between you & brother (Tony)?
|(above from right, Tony Muse, Dante Muse)|
(DM) That is great he still competes and enjoys it, good for him. I wish I could. The last time I had inlines on (other than my aggressive skates) people were wearing 80 mm wheels. As far as my thought on skating, I wish there was much more involvement like from my era.
(PS) I remember reading this article years ago from Sports Illustrated titled “A Sibling Rivalry On Wheels” – v.10.03.88 - SI Vault, and it was still interesting to read today because it talked about how you went about your training (skating two to three practices a week) while Tony and the rest of the world were skating twice as much, riding a hell of a lot more miles on bikes, wearing their lucky Underoos when they raced, okay, okay, minus the Underoos part--maybe that was someone else, but the point being that you were naturally so dang fast and no one could figure it out! Granted you skated a line on an indoor flat track that no one else did, which was an advantage no doubt, but we all know that wasn't only it. Thoughts?
(PS) We know you drifted to the aggressive skate scene right after speed. What was your big attraction to that genre of skating? I understand you're still doing it (some) and you're pretty dang good at it? Have you competed and/or will continue to compete?
(PS) How long have you been playing roller derby? From what I've seen so far and heard, you're pretty good at that also. Derby is not all about speed, but I know it comes in super handy. What are your thoughts on derby coming from a speed background? Your roller derby team name is called “Your Mom.” Your derby name is ‘Tinker Bell.” Tony is “Peter Pan.” I obviously see the pun in this since I personally know you guys, but how do you explain to everyone else who doesn't know you guys? What's the next step for “Your Mom” (well not ‘your mom’ literally but you know what I mean :)?
& props to my buddy Seahorses Forever lol
(PS) You got married in 2006? One child, correct? Lorenza? How's family life? Do you own and run one of the family rinks these days?
|(Dante & his daughter Lorenza Muse)|
(PS) Fondest memory when you look back at your speed career?
(PS) Miss anything about speed?
(PS) What's the best advice you would give someone that wants to do what you did with your career whether it's speed, aggressive or roller derby?
(PS) I want to thank you for this interview and it's great to hear from you and all your fans will certainly appreciate it greatly. Hope we can continue this another day or see if we can answer some questions from a few of the Dante clan. Thanks, Dante, you’ve been a great friend along the way and best of luck to you this season with Atom Wheels and Your Mom! :)
Well there you have it, Dante Muse uncut! Stay tuned as ATOM Wheels connects you to the world's best right here at ATOM WHEELS. If you really want to be in the 'know'. Make sure you 'Like' us on Facebook. See you soon!
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p.s. thanks to Ami Raynor :)