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U.S. speedskaters Ohno and Celski ready for 2010 Olympics | Sidelines

The city of Federal Way, along with Pattison’s West skate center, will have a huge rooting interest when the 2010 Winter Olympics get under way in Vancouver, B.C., a couple of months from now.

Two of the members of the United States men’s short track speedskating team got their starts at the Federal Way skating rink. Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski called the hardwood at Pattison’s West home on inline skates during their early years before moving onto the ice.

And Ohno and Celski aren’t just happy to be heading to the Olympic Games in Vancouver. The twosome are both favorites to bring at least one medal back across the border.

But both are at different points in their racing careers. This will probably be Ohno’s third and final Olympics. Whereas the 19-year-old Celski is just getting started.

Ohno, 27, is already a star, not only on the ice, but also in corporate America. Heck, the former Federal Way resident won “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC and Alaska Airlines even painted Ohno’s face on the side of one of its planes and named it after him — Follow Apolo.

You can’t get much bigger than that, can you?

But Celski is also on the verge of stardom. Even before taking the ice for his first Olympics, Celski has snagged sponsorship deals from big-time companies like Nike, 24-Hour Fitness, Oakley, Comcast and the AIM Companies.

Those could grow exponentially, like Ohno’s did, if Celski is able to win one or more gold medals in Vancouver. We will see.

But I can’t wait to watch coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I remember sitting in Celski’s living room five years ago and interviewing a wide-eyed 15-year-old about moving to California to take his short track career to another level.

Now, he is an Olympian at the top of his sport and I feel like I played a part in Celski’s journey, as should the rest of Federal Way.

Also helping the commercial appeal of guys like Ohno and Celski is the fact that Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert is now the official sponsor of the U.S. Speedskating Team. The mock pundit has been drawing massive attention to the sport.

“U.S. Speedskating is thrilled to be able to create a unique partnership between one of the great entertainers in the industry and one of the great sports in the Olympic movement,” said Bob Crowley, executive director of U.S. Speedskating. “Embracing the U.S. Speedskating Team will provide immeasurable exposure for our sport and very talented athletes.”

Colbert’s effort has raised more than $250,000, nearly making up a shortfall that resulted when the previous sponsor, Dutch bank DSB, went bust. Ohno, who has skated in two Olympics and won two golds and five medals overall, said he’s a fan of Colbert.

“I think he’s funny,” Ohno said. “Our country is kind of in need of some humor right now, and it’s all for a good cause.”

Crowley said more than 8,500 individuals have gone on Colbert’s Web site to make donations.

“It’s bringing great attention to our sport,” Crowley said. “The man is brilliant. He sees the humor in all this.”

In other interesting news

• Fantasy football is fun to play, but is it really worth losing your job over? I guess for Cameron Pettigrew and three other Fidelity Investments employees it was, although it seems a little extreme. The four dudes worked at a Dallas office for Fidelity, the country’s biggest mutual fund sponsor, and were fired recently for playing fantasy football on company time.

“Firing a guy for being in a $20 fantasy league? Let’s be honest; that’s a complete overreaction,” Pettigrew told the Dallas Morning News. Pettigrew, who was the commissioner of his league, knew Fidelity had a policy against playing fantasy football at the office. But he said the policy was poorly communicated.

Fidelity spokesman Vin Loporchio told the Dallas Morning News: “We have clear policies that relate to gambling. Participation in any form of gambling through the use of Fidelity time or equipment or any other company resource is prohibited. In addition to being illegal in a lot of places, it can also be disruptive. We want our employees to be focused on our customers and clients.”

I’ll admit, this kind of scares me because I have a friend that just so happens to check his fantasy football team while at work. So if anybody has any tips on clearing out my (friend’s) work computer’s fantasy football history, I would appreciate a little help...

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