Short Track Olympic Trials Results & Stories

For the uninitiated: Short track = Apolo Anton Ohno, Long Track = Shani Davis.  Short track occurs on a hockey rink, long track is contested on a four hundred meter oval.  Short track has multiple skaters racing within inches of each other; long track has two skaters each in separate lanes racing against the clock. Long Trackers (or Lawn Trackers) use clap skates, short trackers use a fixed blade.

While many, including the powers that be at U.S. Speedskating, are lamenting the retirement of Apolo Anton Ohno and Katherine Reutter, new personalities and medalists are sure to emerge. Inliner J.R. Celski could very well be the  next short track personality. Celski is best known for dominating the National Speedskating Circuit, a short track inline competition popular across the country.  Celski has a couple of bronze medals from Vancouver, but has much higher expectations this time around.

“I never forget my roots as an Inline Speed Skater. With Inline Speed Skating not being an Olympic sport I had to make the hard decision to switch sports to chase my dream of being an Olympian. I really support what Miguel (Jose, NSC President) and Joey (Mantia, NSC cofounder and 28 time World Champion) are doing because the NSC finally gives my first love of Inline Speed Skating a platform for talented skaters to showcase the sport on a professional level.”

Here is a great video about J.R. Celski overcoming a gruesome injury (which is shown in the video):


 

 

Olympic Team:

Skaters can “automatically” qualify based on past performance and finishing position on Friday.  Final positions will be awarded on Sunday based on points earned throughout the competition.

1500 Men

  • J.R. Celski

1500 Women

  • Jessica Smith

500 Men

  • J.R. Celski
  • Eddy Alvarez

500 Women

Click here for BleacherReports live coverage of the 500m event.

1000 Mens

  • J.R. Celski

In the first round, Chris Creveling edged out J.R. Celski by a couple of inches (one hundredth of a second). Eddy Alvarez was right there for third.  In the next heat, sixteen year old Thomas Hong, who trained in South Korea came up just short after going from first to third in the final lap of a semifinal heat.

In the next round John Krueger timed his move perfectly and took second to advance.  Recall Krueger missed qualifying in earlier events due to swine flu. Krueger’s move knocked Creveling to third and out of the A final.  In the other semifinal Kruger and Jayner went down and Chris Krueger (John’s brother) advanced along with Alvarez.

D final: Thomas Hong, Aaron Tran

C final: Ryan Pivirotto, Karl Uyehara crashed in the last turn

B final: Creveling and Carroll battled closely, but Creveling held on in a great race.  Chris Creveling is another inliner.

A final: Celski, John Krueger, John Krueger, Alvarez.  John Krueger made a huge move with a few laps to go, but could not catch Celski. Paul Krueger and Eddy Alvarez finished third and fourth.  One wonders what a healthy John Krueger could have accomplished.

Here is BleacherReports coverage of the event.

1000 Womens

  • Jessica Smith
  • Emily Scott

In the first round, Jessica Smith took the lead with a couple of laps to go and pulled away.  Scott passed Allison Dudek in the final lap.  Dudek finished third again, where she was most of the week.

Allison Baver, the three time Olympian, won the C final in her final race.  In the B final, two skaters fell and Goetz and Chen battled.  Goetz wins with a pass at the end.  Katherine Rolston left toe clipped into the ice and she slide out to the wall taking another Burkholder out.

In the A final, Jessica Smith (out of Milwaukee), Emily Scott, Alyson Dudek, and Lana Gehring took to the line.  Smith jumped out, but was quickly back in third as the underdog Gehring flew to the front.  Gehring couldn’t hold the pace and quickly fell out of contention.  Smith passed with two to go and held off Emily Scott and Allison Dudek in a tight finish.

Womens Team:

  • Jessica Smith
  • Emily Scott
  • Allison Dudek

The final positions on the team are awarded based on points earned in time trials and in the other races.  Allison Dudek wrapped up a spot based on points.  Sarah Chen & Allison Baver (a former Olympian and successful inliner) came up short.  The U.S. women did not qualify a relay team at World Cup events for the Olympics, which limited the women to three Olympic short track members.  Jessica Smith dominated the week, even with a tear in her hip that will require surgery.  Both Jessica Smith and Emily Scott are highly successful inliners.

Mens Team:

  • J.R. Celski
  • Eddy Alvarez
  • Chris Creveling
  • Jordan Malone
  • Kyle Carr

Chris Creveling, Jordan Malone, and Kyle Carr qualified for the at large bids for the men.  Jordan Malone wrecked in a 1000m preliminary race and scratched from the semifinals in the 1000m with bruised ribs, but had enough points from the other events that he still qualified for the Olympics.  Jeff Simon broke his ankle last week and likely would have been a member of the team.

Notes:

Broadcasters, including Ohno, mentioned that so many of the competitors are current and former inliners.  They noted that skaters switched sports because inline has failed to gain Olympic standing.

Broadcasters spoke at length about the split in U.S. Short Track skating resulting from the resignation of former coach Jae Su Chun in light of cheating and abuse allegations.  Here is more on that story. Despite his resignation he is still coaching some of the Olympians, including Jessica Smith.

Here is BleacherReports coverage of the event.