Federal Way’s J.R. Celski suffers ankle injury, done for year

J.R. Celski, skating in front, is an Olympic medal winner from Federal Way. - File photo
J.R. Celski, skating in front, is an Olympic medal winner from Federal Way.
— image credit: File photo

It looks like the season is over for two-time Olympic bronze medalist and Federal Way native J.R. Celski. An ankle injury will keep the 21-year-old out of the Short Track Speedskating World Championships.

Celski suffered the injury last month during a three-skater crash at a World Cup event in Japan. He attempted to skate on the ankle last weekend at the U.S. National Championships in short track at the Utah Olympic Oval, but couldn’t.

“It’s a bummer, but in the long run, this is not that important of a meet to risk (further) injury,” Celski told ESPN on Jan. 6.

Celski started the race in Utah just so he could qualify for a possible spot on the United States relay team at the World Championships. A five-member selection committee made Celski a discretionary pick on Sunday. He will be eligible to compete in individual events in the remaining World Cup races but only in the relay at worlds.

It’s still unclear if Celski’s ankle will be healed by the time to race in the relay at the season-ending World Championships, which are scheduled for March in Shanghai, China.

“I was on the bottom of the pile and came out the unlucky one,” he said of the Dec. 4 crash in Nagoya, where he won a silver medal in the 1,500 meters earlier in the competition.

According to Celski, the ankle injury won’t put an end to his quest at competing in his second Olympic Games. The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are slated for Sochi, Russia.

And this won’t be the first time that Celski has had to come back from an on-the-ice injury before the Olympics. As a 19-year-old, Celski had a 6-inch gash sliced into his left thigh at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Trials. The cut, caused by a skate, required 60 stitches to close.

But Celski acquired enough points before the injury at the Olympic Trials to qualify for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where he won two bronze medals just five months after the injury.

Following the 2010 games, Celski took a year off from skating to complete a 90-minute documentary about the Seattle-area hip-hop scene. The documentary is set to debut at some film festivals later this year.

Celski returned to the ice in October and swept the American Cup 1 event in Missouri.

“Before I left, I was just kind of that kid out there having fun, doing what I did best and didn’t really take it seriously outside of the rink,” he said in October. “Now, coming back, I want to do everything right. I want to be consistent for the next three years and know I can be the best in the world.”

Celski’s skating 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 to follow in the skates of his idol, Apolo Ohno, who was also a former Pattison’s skater and Olympic gold medalist.




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