J.R. Celski puts aside thoughts of 4 years ago

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 3:00 am •  Published: January 6, 2014

KEARNS, Utah (AP) — For a brief moment, J.R. Celski thought about what happened before the last Olympics.

When he sliced open his leg and wondered if he'd make it to the Winter Games.

He quickly put those worries aside. Now, he's heading to Sochi — this time as America's best hope at the short track.

"It's hard not to think about it," he conceded. "I had a moment."

Celski won the 1,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday, assuring he'll compete in all three individual events in Russia.

He'll compete at his second Olympics looking to add to the pair of bronze medals he won at the 2010 Vancouver Games, when Apolo Anton Ohno was ending his career as America's most decorated Winter Olympian.

"I've gotten the experience, but this time is completely different for me," Celski said. "Mentally, physically, I'm healthy. I'm going to ride that momentum. I look forward to doing some damage over there."

Celski lost just one race during the four-day trials at the Utah Olympic Oval, finishing second by half a blade length to Chris Creveling in the first 1,000 final on Sunday. Celski came back to easily win the second 1,000 final of the day.

During the trials before the last Winter Games, Celski's right skate sliced his left leg in a crash, spewing blood on the ice. He bruised his femoral artery and came within inches of severing it, which could have been fatal.

He bounced back five months later to make the podium in Vancouver.

But memories of the crash still pop up from time to time.

"Everybody gets those kind of thoughts in their heads," he said. "You've just got to push past them."

Celski will be joined on the 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.

"It's an incredible feeling," said Alvarez, one of seven former inline skaters to make the short track team. "Hopefully we bring back some gold."

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