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SPEEDSKATING: Celski dominates Olympic Trials, headed to Sochi
J.R. Celski is officially an Olympian — again.
The Federal Way native dominated the competition at the United States Olympic Trials — Short Track Speedskating last weekend. The trials ran Thursday to Sunday in Kearns, Utah, and Celski qualified in all three individual events. He will compete in the 1,500-, 1,000- and 500-meter races at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7-23.
"It's an honor to be representing the United States again," Celski told the NBC Sports Network after winning the 1,500 "A" final Friday. "I've been waiting four years for this and to cross that line and know I'm going to Sochi is amazing."
This will be Celski's second Winter Olympic Games. He won a pair of bronze medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. as a 20-year-old. But this year, Celski's goal is to stand atop of the podium in Russia with a gold medal in hand.
"I've gotten the experience, but this time is completely different for me," Celski said. "Mentally, physically, I'm healthy. I'm going to ride that momentum. I look forward to doing some damage over there."
The fact that Celski made it through the Olympic Trials this year is very different from four years ago. During the 2010 trials, Celski had over 60 stitches put in his leg after his razor-sharp skate sliced a huge gash into his left leg during a crash. He bruised his femoral artery and came within inches of severing it, which had the potential of being fatal.
This year's U.S. Olympic Trials were a lot different. Celski lost just one race during the four-day event at the Utah Olympic Oval, finishing second by half a skate blade to Chris Creveling in the first 1,000 final on Sunday. Celski came back to easily win the second 1,000 final of the day.
Celski will be joined on the men's team by Eddy Alvarez, Creveling, 2010 Olympian Jordan Malone and Kyle Carr. Alvarez became the first Cuban-American man to make a U.S. Olympic speedskating team.
Celski’s short track career started as a 4-year-old inline skater at Federal Way’s Pattison’s West with his father, Bob, and two brothers, Chris and David. After numerous inline national championships, Celski switched over to the ice as a 12-year-old.
Celski is the current world record holder in the 500 meters. He is the first person to skate a sub-40 in the distance, setting the world record with a time of 39.937 in the first World Cup of last season on Oct. 21, 2012.
Celski won the 2012 overall title at the U.S. Senior Short Track Speedskating National Championships in December. He also ended the recent World Cup season in impressive fashion by winning a pair of gold medals in November in Kolomna, Russia. Celski won the 1,500 and anchored the American 5,000-meter relay team.
He will be joined on the 2014 men's team by Eddy Alvarez, Creveling, 2010 Olympian Jordan Malone and Kyle Carr. Alvarez became the first Cuban-American man to make a U.S. Olympic speedskating team.