Federal Way's Celski wins gold, takes fourth in World Cup | Speedskating

Federal Way’s J.R. Celski gets a push from Apolo Ohno during last weekend’s World Cup II event in Vancouver, B.C. The relay team won gold.  - Jerry Search/For the Mirror
Federal Way’s J.R. Celski gets a push from Apolo Ohno during last weekend’s World Cup II event in Vancouver, B.C. The relay team won gold.
— image credit: Jerry Search/For the Mirror

Federal Way resident J.R. Celski had another successful weekend on the short-track speedskating circuit last weekend. Celski finished in fourth place in the 1,500-meter final at the World Cup II event at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. The 17-year-old also won a gold medal in the 5,000-meter relay along with American teammates Apolo Ohno, Jeff Simon and Anthony Lobello.

Celski had approximately 50 friends and family in the crowd in Vancouver. Most of the crowd was wearing “J.R. Just Rocks” T-shirts.

After two World Cup events, Celski is ranked fourth in the world in the 1,500 and is 10th out of 81 skaters in the 1,000.

He will next skate Nov. 14-16 at the United States Junior Championships in Bay City, Mich. Celski won the overall title at last year’s U.S. Junior Championships.

Celski took an 18-month break from competitive speed skating after suffering a back injury at the 2006 Junior World Championships and returned home to Federal Way for his junior year of high school at Todd Beamer. Celski had been living in Southern California and training with heralded coach Wilma Boomstra in Long Beach.

He has since moved back to California to continue his training in pursuit of making the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.

• Sounders FC introduced Sweden’s Freddie Ljungberg as its designated player today at Qwest Field.

Ljungberg, 31, signed a multiyear contract that will, according to sources with knowledge of the deal, pay the internationally-known midfielder around $2.5 million a year in base salary.

As Sounders FC’s designated player under Major League Soccer salary guidelines, only a portion of Ljungberg’s salary will count against the club’s salary cap next season. Ljungberg joins Sebastien Le Toux, Sanna Nyassi and Kasey Keller on the roster.

Seattle majority owner Joe Roth was the first to talk to Ljungberg about signing with Sounders FC. Roth convinced Ljungberg to visit Seattle, and Ljungberg said it reminded him of his hometown in Sweden. The two talked about the rising quality of play in MLS, and Ljungberg decided that now was the right time to make the jump to MLS.

Ljungberg played in the English Premier League — one season for West Ham United and nine before that with Arsenal. He reached an agreement with West Ham to terminate his contract earlier this year.

“I figured if I’m going to take MLS seriously and want to make it a really good league and develop it, I should come now and not in three years’ time,” Ljungberg said. “It took me three months to come to a decision of what I wanted to do, but the guys here have helped me in my decision by showing me around the city and what they want to do with the team.”

Seattle Sounders FC will hold open tryouts for the team in Tukwila, Spokane and Yakima next month, the club announced Thursday.

The tryouts will have a twist. They’ll be taped for a reality-based TV show that will air on KING-TV, KONG-TV and Northwest Cable News in late January.

A minimum of three finalists from each city will take part in a one-hour tryout in Seattle that will be televised Feb. 1 after Super Bowl XLII on KING.

Viewers from each city will vote to narrow the list to three players, and judges will choose the winner. The one who emerges will be awarded a spot on the 2009 Sounders FC roster.

Those interested in trying out must be at least 18. The first set of tests is speed and fitness, followed by skills tests and mini-games. The first tryout is Nov. 9 at Spokane’s Plants Ferry Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The second is at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila on Nov. 15, same time, and the third is Nov. 22 at Chesterley Park in Yakima, same time.

Advance registration at is required.

Other Major League Soccer teams, Chivas USA and FC Dallas, have held open tryouts for TV. The clubs were featured in “Sueno MLS” on Spanish-language Univision in 2007 and earlier this year.

Midfielder Jorge Flores was chosen from more than 2,000 participants in 2007 and is now on Chivas USA’s 28-man roster.

• The Tacoma-Pierce County Volleyball Officials Board is in need of individuals who are interested in officiating middle school, junior high, senior high, college, and recreation department volleyball matches throughout Pierce County. A comprehensive training program, starting October 24th, is offered for all new officials and the opportunities to advance in the organization are extensive.

For students, retirees, or former athletes looking to re-connect with a sport, officiating high school and middle school sports is also an excellent way to earn some extra income and provide a great service to the teams. Registration is due no later than October 23rd so please contact us immediately.

For additional information on becoming a volleyball official, visit or contact Marc Blau at (253) 848-1360 or or John Wohn at 253-272-8543 or

• Apple Physical Therapy will honor one boy and one girl student athlete for both the Fall and Winter sport seasons with a $1,000 Athlete of the Quarter Scholarship.

Eligible student athletes must be high school seniors enrolled in a Western Washington high school, participating in a varsity sport and be in good-standing academically. The scholarship criteria include athlete performance, community service/involvement and other compelling personal circumstances.

Nomination forms are available to download at Apple Physical Therapy’s Web site,, and can be turned in to any Apple Physical Therapy clinic location or other participating private practice location. A complete list of locations is on Apple Physical Therapy’s Web site. Nomination forms are due December 1 for fall, 2008 and March 1 for Winter, 2009 applications.

Scholarship winners will be announced at the conclusion of the Fall, 2008 and Winter, 2009 seasons on the High School GameTime television program on King 5 and Kong 6/16.

Apple Physical Therapy is also the official athletic training partner for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and oversees young athletes at the state football, basketball and softball tournaments each year.

• The Federal Way School District sign program is entering its second year. Advertising banners may be placed at Federal Way Memorial Field or in secondary schools. Each banner costs $500. For more information, contact Greg Flynn at gflynn@fwps or call (253) 945-5575.

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