J.R. Celski, Jessica Smith clinch 2nd Olympic short track spots
KEARNS, Utah (AP) J.R. Celski dominated the 500 meters at the U.S. Olympic short track speedskating trials on Saturday, clinching his second event for Sochi. Jessica Smith led all the way in winning the women's sprint, ensuring she'll skate at least two events in Russia.
Eddy Alvarez, a former inline skater from Miami, earned his first Olympic berth after finishing second to Celski in both 500 `A' finals.
Alvarez clapped as he crossed the line behind Celski in the second men's final. Alvarez caught up with Celski and grabbed him for a hug.
Celski took the early lead before Alvarez passed him. Celski grabbed the lead right back with a pass down low in the four-man final. Celski won in 41.000 seconds. He took the first 500 final in 40.994.
"I was pretty shocked," Celski said about temporarily losing the lead.
Celski, from Federal Way, Wash., and Alvarez have competed against each other since they were small children.
"It sounds pretty awesome, don't you think?" Alvarez said about making the team with Celski. "It's everything we always talked about."
On the awards podium, Celski passed the winner's bottle of champagne to Alvarez. He shook it up while Jordan Malone grabbed Celski, who couldn't escape as Alvarez soaked his face and hair with bubbly.
Emily Scott of Springfield, Mo., was third in the first women's 500 `A' final and came back to finish second in the day's other final, ensuring her one of three available spots on the U.S. women's team.
She didn't celebrate crossing the line, unaware that her finish meant she'd made her first Olympic team.
"I'm speechless," she said. "I didn't even know until my coach brought me over and congratulated me. I was just going out there to race."
Smith won both 500 finals after going through quarterfinal and semifinal rounds at the Utah Olympic Oval. She, Scott and Alyson Dudek kept the top three spots throughout the second final. Smith won the first final in 44.374, and was timed in 44.420 in the second.
Celski and Smith also will skate in the 1,500 in Sochi after each of them won their respective races Friday.
Five men will make the U.S. team, while just three women will after they failed to qualify a relay for Sochi. It will be the smallest U.S. women's short track team since the sport joined the Olympics in 1996.
Celski leads the 500 standings with 2,500 points. Alvarez was second at 1,920. Malone of Denton, Texas, was third with 1,357. Kyle Carr of Peachtree City, Ga., was fourth at 1,257. Kyle Uyehara of Whittier, Calif., stood fifth at 904.
Smith of Melvindale, Mich., topped the women's 500 standings with 2,500 points. Scott was second at 1,840. Dudek of Hales Corners, Wis., was third at 1,760. Sarah Chen of San Marino, Calif., was fourth at 1,280.
The four-day trials end Sunday with the 1,000.