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Originally published Friday, September 11, 2009 at 6:35 PM

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Ohno wins 2 events at short track nationals

Apolo Anton Ohno left trouble in his tracks and returned to a place he knows best: the winner's spot on the podium.

AP Sports Writer


Apolo Anton Ohno left trouble in his tracks and returned to a place he knows best: the winner's spot on the podium.

The five-time Olympic medalist swept the 1,000 and 1,500 meters at the U.S. short track speedskating national championships on Friday night, earning his first victories in six events.

"I felt more comfortable," he said. "I feel more settled. It's been 10 years since I raced in September. My body is not acclimated to it."

Ohno was not in favor of U.S. Speedskating's decision to move the trials up three months, making them the first meet of the season. Officials said it would give the Olympic team more time to prepare for the Vancouver Games in February.

But Ohno worried the quality of the team could be compromised if skaters who peak in the fall and then tail off early in the Olympic year were to qualify.

His two titles moved Ohno into the overall points lead with one night remaining at the meet that awards Olympic berths to the top five skaters. He overtook J.R. Celski, who had led through the first two nights and is 160 points behind Ohno's total of 4,912.

"It was important," Ohno said. "Just to be consistent is the name of the game. J.R. is skating fantastic. It's kind of anybody's race. It's a strategy game."

Jordan Malone was third overall with 3,188, followed by Travis Jayner (2,670) and Simon Cho (2,504).

Ohno held off Jayner at the finish of the 1,000 on the hockey rink at Northern Michigan University. He was timed in 1:29.963 to 1:29.998 for Jayner.

Ohno returned later for a wild and woolly 1,500 jammed with seven skaters, creating the potential for plenty of trouble.

But he steered clear, making a successful pass on leader Celski with two laps to go to win. Ohno pumped his right arm and clapped his hands, ending a string of second-place finishes in the first two days. He was timed in 2:17.486. Celski crossed in 2.17.733.

"I just wanted to be safe," Ohno said.


Ryan Bedford and Malone wiped out just before the finish line. Both were disqualified, Bedford for impeding and Malone for crosstracking.

Celski finished second. He was third behind Ohno in the 1,000.

Charles Ryan Leveille and Bedford were eighth and ninth, respectively, and will need to make a serious push Saturday night to keep alive their bids to make both the short and long track Olympic teams.

The lead in the 1,000 was traded back and forth before Ohno sneaked inside Celski to go in front for good with four laps remaining.

Ohno had finished second in the 500 and 1,500 individual events and in the nine-lap time trial and was fourth in the four-lap time trial.

On the women's side, Katherine Reutter swept the 1,000 and 1,500 races, giving her four victories in three days of competition.

The 21-year-old skater from Champaign, Ill., leads the overall standings with 5,152 - 974 ahead of Alyson Dudek.

She had already won the first of two 1,500 finals and the nine-lap time trial.

Reutter made an outside pass with two laps remaining and zipped from third to first in the 1,000. She was timed in 1:31.606.

"The outside pass is definitely the safest, which is why I mostly do it," she said. "The biggest thing I wait for is an opening. You have to watch everyone in front of you. It's really a timing thing."

Later, Reutter returned to win the 1,500 by picking off four skaters in front of her to take the lead for good.

"One of my goals was to be able to change strategy while racing," she said. "That's one of my weaknesses. I wanted to be very flexible."

Two-time Olympian Allison Baver was second in her first meet since shattering her lower right leg in a race in February. Baver solidified her hold on the fifth Olympic berth.

Kimberly Derrick finished second in the 1,000, but was disqualified for impeding. That moved Dudek up to second, with Baver third and Lana Gehring fourth.

Derrick is third overall, followed by Gehring.

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