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Olympic Outsiders

If you can't be inside the Olympic Games, then follow Seattle Times producers, reporters, videographers and Olympic fans as we take you to the streets of Vancouver, B.C., to show you what's happening on the ground and give you a taste of the scene swirling around the 2010 winter games.

February 24, 2010 at 12:45 PM

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Speedskater J.R. Celski's Twitter-love affair with Seattle music

Posted by Stephanie Clary


Apolo Ohno uses Twitter to flirt and hold chats with his fans. Lindsey Vonn uses the social-networking tool to point to detailed Facebook notes on the outcome of her Olympic events.

But Federal Way native and Olympic bronze-medal speedskater J.R. Celski's tweets are rarely self-promotional and often pointing his 13,800 followers away from the Olympics and toward Seattle hiphop music.

"I really would like to see it put on the map, and one of the ways that's going to happen is if people talk about it," he said in a phone interview. "I'm going to try to do my best to promote these guys."

Local rappers Macklemore and Grynch, and the group Blue Scholars are among the most-mentioned by @celskeet, even though he has yet to meet any of them in person.

The artists tend to be storytellers, and Celski gravitates toward them for their "positive message."

"These guys are rapping about real-life situations and remind people about what's right and what's wrong," he said.

Twitter is often a narcisstic outlet, especially from someone who needs a verified account, which the 19-year-old Olympian has, and rightfully so. He's received significant media coverage thanks to a bronze medal, a gruesome speedskating-related injury and his recovery and, most recently, a large chest tattoo.

"I wish more people interviewed me about music," he said while discussing how rare it is to find someone in the speedskating circle who knows about his favorite artists.

His personal success makes his public promotion of others in an unrelated profession even more noticeable. But Celski said it's hard for him to connect with people who don't have similar tastes in music, and Twitter appears to be an outlet for him to share and start a conversation on his other passion.

Celski dabbles in tweeting like someone embedded in Seattle's scene, but he's actually residing in Utah, coming back to Washington — "home" — only every few months, he said.

He has hopes to move his involvement in local music beyond tweets. Celski admits production is something he has considered, and he's trying to bring Seattle hiphop and rock artists together for a benefit concert. There's proof of these plans Twitter, of course.

Macklemore, Grynch and Blue Scholars were first mentioned on his dream lineup, followed by Common Market, Minus the Bear.

"My goal in life is to affect as many people as I can positivley," Celski said. "And I feel like promoting artists ... who have a positive message" is a part of that.

Here are the Seattle hiphop songs Celski is currently listening to:

"The Town" — Macklemore

"If Only" — Grynch feat. Macklemore

"The Inkwell" — Blue Scholars

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