Short track skater Celski goes for medal in 500

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 17, 2014 at 9:45 am •  Published: February 17, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — J.R. Celski is down to his last chance to win an individual medal at the Sochi Olympics.

The American short track skater is looking to make up for disappointments in the 1,500 meters, where he was fourth, and the 1,000, where he clipped a block and crashed out in the quarterfinals.

Celski bruised his knees in the crash last weekend, but taking himself out of contention was even more painful. It was just the second time in four years he'd gone out of a race that way.

"I really wanted it," he said after practice Monday. "I kind of saw four years go down the drain for the 1,000."

After taking Sunday off, along with the rest of the U.S. team, and spending time with his family, Celski had made peace with his misfortune.

"Just trying to stay positive and look forward to what I have left," he said.

He opens his bid in the 500 with the heats on Tuesday. Celski, the world record holder at the distance, drew the No. 2 lane in a four-man heat that includes Olivier Jean of Canada.

Among Celski's rivals are Russia's Viktor Ahn, a two-time medalist in Sochi; and Canada's Charles Hamelin, the 1,500 champion in Sochi and the defending Olympic gold medalist in the 500. The other U.S. skaters are Eddy Alvarez of Miami, Fla., and Jordan Malone of Denton, Texas.

"Just got to stay calm," said Alvarez, whose strongest event is the 500. "I know I'm fast enough, I know my passing ability is there, just got to find the right openings."

The 500 involves three rounds of racing to reach Friday's final at Iceberg Skating Palace.

"We have good chances, but the margin for error is pretty low," U.S. coach Stephen Gough said. "The starts are so crucial. The time you skate decides the start for the next race."

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