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September 20, 2009 at 6:43 PM

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Seattle short-track M*A*S*H unit: Ohno sick; Celski recovering

Posted by Ron Judd


Not a great start to the World Cup season for Seattle's dueling short-track speedskating stars.

Of course, there was the grabbing-an-Olympic-spot thing, which both skaters did admirably at the recent U.S. short-track Olympic Trials in Marquette, Mich. Federal Way's J.R. Celski, 19, and Apolo Ohno, 27, both qualified for the Games -- Celski's first, the third for five-time medalist Ohno. But Celski near the end of the meet took a fall that sent him into the sideboards and resulted in one of his razor-sharp skates slicing into his thigh above his left knee.

The nasty cut, which went all the way to the bone across the front of his leg, was serious, but Celski is recuperating under the watchful eyes of his surgeon, Olympic speedskating legend Eric Heiden, and a physical therapist, Dr. John Hall, in Salt Lake City, says J.R.'s mom, Sue.

Celski is expected to recover in time to compete in Vancouver in February.

"He was able to bend his left leg to 44 degrees today and able to put a little more weight on it as the swelling continues to subside daily," Sue Celski said in a Saturday email.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Short Track team flew off to see its first World Cup action in Asia while Celski licked his wounds. Not a great start for the U.S. team, particularly the men. Ohno was stricken with some sort of serious stomach ailment of flu bug (we know, don't even say it) in Beijing, and didn't place in any of his races. Neither did the men's relay team, which didn't have Celski's speed to count on, and never recovered from a fall in one of the semifinals.

Ohno's condition heading toward the next stop, in South Korea, is unclear. But he said on his Twitter feed yesterday that he was "shaking, literally" before a race in China, adding today that he's hoping to get some better medical attention in Seoul.

"Ughh. Need medicine!" Ohno wrote. "Maybe some Korean kim-chi will help? Feels like a squirrel is running around in my body."

World Cup 2 is Thursday through Sunday in Seoul.

It's unclear how Celski's injury will affect his ability to qualify in particular races at the Games, as those placements normally are determined by performances in World Cup races -- like those the young U.S. star is now missing. More info on that when we get it.

The bright spot for the U.S. in the Beijing meet was Katherine Reutter, of Champaign, Ill., who took a gold medal in the women's 1,000 meters.

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Blog roll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.