Ohno Wants Complete Set
VANCOUVER - U.S. short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno will be skating for a superlative place in the history books Saturday.
Ohno on Wednesday easily advanced through the 1,000-meter preliminaries, giving him the chance to win his seventh career Olympic medal this weekend. With seven medals, he would surpass long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair as the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian.
Ohno finished so comfortably ahead in his qualifying heat Wednesday that he was able to ease up as he approached the finish line, then stretched his arms and pointed his fingers in celebration.
Ohno's U.S. teammate, first-time Olympian J.R. Celski, who stood on the medals podium with Ohno after the 1,500 last weekend, also advanced Wednesday in the 1,000.
Celski made it more interesting than Ohno, slipping into second place (the top two finishers in each heat advanced) in the last half lap Wednesday. With that move, Celski continued his surprising comeback from a career-threatening crash in the Olympic trials in September.
Celski gashed his left upper leg with his right skate blade. He returned to training with the U.S. team in November.
The 1,000 is the only individual distance in which Ohno has not claimed Olympic gold. He won the 1,500 in the 2002 Games and the 500 in 2006.
Ohno does have two Olympic medals in the 1,000 - silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006. His recent results point to him possibly being able to complete his medal collection in the distance Saturday.
Ohno won silver in the 1,000 in last year's world championships. He also finished first in the 1,000 in a World Cup event in November, his last international competition before the Vancouver Olympics.
Of course, in short track, it would be folly to make predictions with any measure of certainty. Ohno won his sixth Olympic medal here in a race that epitomized the vagaries of the sport.
Entering the last quarter turn of the 1,500 final, Ohno and Celski were trailing a trio of South Koreans. A Korean podium sweep seemed certain.
As the skaters made the last turn, two of the Koreans got tangled up and crashed into the padding that surrounds the racing surface. Ohno skated past for silver and Celski finished just behind him for bronze.
"It was the most relaxed I've ever been for any competition in my life," Ohno said afterward.
With that sixth medal, Ohno took over the title of most-decorated U.S. male Winter Olympian, passing another long-track legend, Eric Heiden. Heiden won five golds in the 1980 Games.
After Saturday's races in the 1,000, Ohno will have one more individual race in Vancouver, the 500. The qualifying heats for the 500 are scheduled for Wednesday, and the finals will be held Feb. 26.