Federal Way's J.R. Celski finishes fourth in first Olympic event

Federal Way's J.R. Celski failed to medal in his first race of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Celski, 23, finished up in fourth place in the 1,500 meters Monday. Charles Hamelin of Canada won the gold medal.

Celski will race three more times in Russia and came into the Games expecting to win multiple medals, maybe even multiple gold medals. He won bronze on both the 1,500-meter individual and the 5,000-meter team relay in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics.

During the 1,500 meters on Monday, Celski made contact with another skater three laps from the finish when it appeared like he was making his move to the front. He never recovered and ended up chasing the three medalists over the final few laps. Celski finished in 2:15.624.

"I went up, I think. with eight (laps) to go and pushed myself in first … but then the race was slow enough to where people kept moving up and up. And unfortunately I was in a bad position in one of the corners and kind of got bumped and lost my momentum," Celski told the USA Today.

Hamelin's winning time in the 14-lap race was 2:14.985. He was followed by silver medalist Han Tianyu of China (2:15.055) and bronze medalist Victor An of Russia (2:15.062). An, who won three golds and a bronze for South Korea in the 2006 Torino Olympics, became a Russian citizen in 2011.

"I came out here and gave it my best and unfortunately came up a little short," Celski told the USA Today. "But I have three more events to go out there to compete in. So there may be some medals in the future."

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.


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