Celski outskates Ohno in time trial
MARQUETTE, Mich. -- So much for respecting your idols.
J.R. Celski outskated his childhood hero Apolo Anton Ohno in the 1,000-meter time trial at the U.S. short track speedskating national championships Tuesday night.
Celski scooted through nine laps around a hockey rink in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in a personal-best time of 1:23.981.
The 19-year-old skater from Federal Way, Wash. -- a suburb of Ohno's hometown of Seattle -- is seeking to make his first Olympic team. He first noticed Ohno, who was 11 at the time, as a 3-year-old skating at the same club.
"I always looked up to him, and I still do," Celski said. "I want to do the things he accomplished."
Ohno, a five-time Olympic medalist, clocked 1:24.500, second-quickest overall and a personal best.
A standout on most rinks anyway, Ohno was easy to spot on opening night of the trials that will help determine the Olympic team. He was the only skater wearing a racing suit in large blocks of red, white and blue.
National assistant coach Jimmy Jang leaned over the boards, stopwatch in his right hand, shouting information to Ohno as he zipped by.
At 27, Ohno remains one of the world's best short track skaters, but even his countrymen have caught up with him since the 2006 Torino Olympics.
Celski had a standout meet at the world championships in March, finishing second overall and earning gold medals in the 3,000 meters and 5,000 relay to go with a pair of bronzes in the 1,000 and 1,500.
At that meet in Vienna, Austria, Ohno earned a silver in the 1,000 and finished fourth in the 3,000.
Celski returned later in the evening to best Ohno again when they were paired in the four-lap time trial. Celski compiled 1,800.00 points to lead the standings.
"It's a little confidence boost," Celski said. "It's the first meet of the season and it doesn't even feel like I'm at a meet. I'm not even nervous."
Jordan Malone had the fastest time of 37.124, and was second with 1,640.00 points.
Celski finished second in 37.127, and former Olympian Anthony Lobello Jr. was third. Ohno was fourth in 37.240 and was third overall with 1,312.00 points. He left the rink without talking to reporters, telling some of the other skaters that he was off in search of food.
Malone of Denton, Texas, who skated on the victorious relay in Vienna, was third in the 1,000 with a time of 1:25.259. Lobello was fourth in 1:25.525.
Charles Ryan Leveille and Ryan Bedford are attempting a historic double, trying to make both the short track and long track Olympic speedskating teams. Shani Davis fell short in his attempt four years ago, qualifying only in long track.
Leveille, a long-track Olympian four years ago, was sixth after overcoming a false start and Bedford 10th in the nine-lapper. Leveille skated with a colorful cloth covering his face to keep the cold air from fogging his protective glasses.
Leveille and Bedford will need much better results over the next three days to grab one of the five Olympic berths. Leveille was eighth overall and Bedford 10th.
Former Olympian J.P. Kepka advanced in 11th place.
Pack racing begins Wednesday, with the top 16 men and women moving on to three nights of precarious, head-to-head heats that will help determine the U.S. team for Vancouver.
On the women's side, Katherine Reutter took the top spot in the 1,000 time trial at 1:30.308. The 21-year-old from Bonnie Blair's hometown of Champaign, Ill., is coming off a breakout season in which she finished seventh at the world championships.
Reutter returned later and finished third in the four-lapper, compiling 1,640.00 points, tying her with Alyson Dudek for first place in the overall standings.
"I'm prepared and ready to go. I feel good," Reutter said.
Kimberly Derrick, a 2006 Olympian from Memphis, was second in the 1,000 in 1:31.344. She matched that finish in the four-lapper and was 40 points behind in third.
"The time trials really show what people can put on the table," she said.
Dudek, a 19-year-old from Hales Corners, Wis., was third in 1:31.560. She won the four-lapper in 39.798.
Two-time Olympian Allison Baver was fifth in 1:32.857 and later finished ninth in the four-lapper, putting her sixth overall, with one skater to overtake if she's going to make another Olympic team. She was skating for the first time since breaking her leg at a World Cup meet in Bulgaria in February.
The rink on the campus of Northern Michigan University has new pads to better protect skaters who crash into them. The pads are 19 inches thick -- 11 inches thicker than the old ones -- and specially molded to fit the rink corners with tabs securing them to the boards.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
MORE OLYMPICS HEADLINES
- Durant, USA pull away from Spain to win gold
- Clippers' Paul has successful surgery on thumb
- Schmitt back to school after Olympic stardom
- Olympian Raisman, Poland Spring sign deal