Sports

SPEEDSKATING: Celski wins overall title at U.S. Short Track Single Distance

Federal Way native J.R. Celski (center), surrounded by his parents, Bob and Sue, was awarded a diploma for setting the world record in the 500 meters last weekend at the U.S. Short Track Single Distance Championships in Salt Lake City. - Courtesy photo
Federal Way native J.R. Celski (center), surrounded by his parents, Bob and Sue, was awarded a diploma for setting the world record in the 500 meters last weekend at the U.S. Short Track Single Distance Championships in Salt Lake City.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

J.R. Celski hopes his short track speed skating career peaks in February. That’s when the Federal Way resident hopes to be participating in his second Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Celski took a step toward Russia last weekend when he won the overall classification title at the United States Short Track Single Distance Championships in Salt Lake City. It was the first competition of the season for Celski. He won the 500-meter and 1,500-meter races during the championships and also finished second in the 1,000, securing a World Cup spot in all three events.

The top-two finishers in each of the three distances automatically qualified for the U.S. World Cup team.

“I didn’t want to risk too much,” he said about the 1,000 final. “Now is not the goal. So I want to stay safe through trials, through all of the World Cups and through the next trials (for the Olympic team).”

For the next several weeks, Celski will get back to training until the first World Cup  event of the season, which is being held in China Sept. 26-29. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Short Track will be held Jan. 2-5 in Salt Lake City.

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. He was honored during the U.S. Single Distance Championships when he received a diploma from the International Skating Union for breaking the world record.

Celski’s 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 Apolo Ohno, who was also a former Pattison’s skater and Olympic gold medalist.

Celski recently won the 2012 overall title at the U.S. Senior Short Track Speedskating National Championships in December.

Celski brought home a pair of bronze medals from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but he did so as a 20-year-old.

He was also coming off a gruesome injury just months before the Olympics.

He had gashed his left thigh with his skate and required dozens of stitches.

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