Ohno wins 500, 1,000; Celski injured

Updated: September 13, 2009, 1:13 AM ET
Associated Press

MARQUETTE, Mich. -- Get out the fake soul patches and bandannas. Apolo Anton Ohno is going back to the Olympics.

Ohno earned a trip to his third Winter Games, winning the 500 and 1,000 meters at the U.S. short track national championships Saturday night when crashes sent two skaters to the hospital.

Ohno, the injured J.R. Celski, Jordan Malone, Travis Jayner and Simon Cho earned spots on the men's Olympic team. Ohno finished first in the overall standings with 6,912 points.

"It feels really good," said Ohno, who realized his longtime goal of competing in the Vancouver Games, about three hours from his hometown of Seattle. "We have a very, very strong team."

Now 27, the five-time Olympic medalist known for the wisp of hair under his chin barely got his right skate blade in front of Jeff Simon in the 500 final at the hockey rink on the Northern Michigan University campus.

Ohno was timed in 41.928, with Simon crossing the line in 41.967. Jayner was third and Malone fourth.

Ohno returned later to win the 1,000 with an inside pass that overtook Anthony Lobello Jr. on the straightaway of the final lap. Ohno waved his right index finger in the air, signaling No. 1, even before crossing the final line. He was clocked in 1:33.306.

Simon was second, barely edging out Lobello. Cho was fourth.

Celski underwent surgery after crashing and slicing open his left leg with his right skate blade in a 500 meter semifinal heat.

He hit the boards coming out of a turn and bounced off them. The first few inches of his right blade cut into his left leg near the knee, spilling blood on the ice.

Celski yelled as fellow skater Walter Rusk, who didn't qualify to compete, jumped out of the stands and rushed to Celski's side to apply pressure to try and stop the heavy blood flow. The race was cut off while he was tended to for several minutes before being removed on a stretcher.

U.S. Speedskating president Brad Goskowicz said Celski was undergoing surgery at Marquette General Hospital to determine the extent of his injury.

Ohno texted with Celski after the crash.

"He sounded like he was OK and in good spirits," he said. "I've heard it's not as bad as it looked on the ice. He's one of our guys, he's skating amazing. I'm sure J.R. will be back very soon. He's a strong kid."

Simon hit the boards skates-first earlier in the heat, but he wasn't hurt. Lobello, a 2006 Olympian, was disqualified for impeding Simon.

Celski, a 19-year-old skater from Federal Way, Wash., finished second behind Ohno in the overall standings despite the crash.

He won the 1,500 earlier in the meet.

Celski was the second skater taken off by stretcher on the meet's final night. Maria Garcia, a 2006 Olympian from Carson, Calif., crashed hard into the boards in her 500 semifinal heat, forcing the race to be stopped.

Garcia was taken to the same hospital as Celski and was being evaluated, Goskowicz said. There was no immediate update on her condition.

Katherine Reutter won the women's 500 final in 44.303, beating out Allyson Dudek.

Reutter returned later to lead the 1,000 meters much of the way, but she was beaten to the finish line by 2006 Olympian Kimberly Derrick.

Derrick won in 1:32.096. Reutter got her left skate across ahead of Allison Baver, who finished third. Dudek was fourth.

Reutter, Dudek, Derrick, Baver and Lara Gehring earned spots on the women's Olympic team. Reutter led the point standings with 6,952.

Four years ago, Reutter didn't qualify for the trials.

"To come back four years later, I didn't mess up and nothing held me back," she said. "I was able to do my best and this time was good enough."

Baver made her third Olympic team just seven months after shattering her lower right leg in a racing crash.

"So much has happened to me in the last seven months, so many mountains to climb every day. I did it and it's cool," she said. "This is the best team we've ever had on the ladies' side."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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