The U.S. short track speedskating team looks toward its first Olympic Winter Games in the post-Apolo Anton Ohno era. Replacing the most-decorated American Olympic winter athlete of all-time will not be easy, but the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team is shaping up to be full of young athletes who are experienced well beyond their years.
The Sochi Games will also be the first Olympic Games for the U.S. short track team under the direction of the new head coach, Guy Thibault. The French-Canadian and two-time Olympian took over as head coach in 2012.
In the new era of U.S. short track speedskating, the men are dominating the individual distance events. Leading the pack is Vancouver 2010 two-time bronze medalist J.R. Celski, who set a world record in the 500-meter race at a 2012 ISU Short Track World Cup. In addition to Celski, Chris Creveling and Eddy Alvarez are also beginning to leave their mark on the international stage.
Team USA will rely on Lana Gehring and Emily Scott to lead a talented group of women in Sochi. Gehring helped the U.S. capture the bronze medal in the 3,000 relay at the Vancouver Games, while Scott collected silver in the same event at the 2012 World Championships. One of the most exciting short track events, the relay continues to be a strong event for both the men and women.
The Olympic short track speedskating competition will be contested at the Iceberg Skating Palace, which is situated at the heart of the coastal cluster within the Olympic Park. The venue can seat up to 12,000 spectators and will also host the Olympic figure skating competitions. The facility was commissioned for test events in 2012, and will be used as a multipurpose sports and cultural facility after the Games.
- After the disappointing revelations of skate tampering and an athlete grievance last summer, the U.S. short track team is rebuilding from the ground up. Now under the direction of Head Coach Guy Tibault, the short track athletes have resumed joint practices and showed improvement in the world cup relay events.
- With only fractions of a second deciding the winner in any event, the technology behind speedskating – specifically the science of skin suits – is a top priority. U.S. Speedskating’s apparel sponsor, Under Armour, is putting a great deal of time and effort into the research and development of a fast skin suit for the U.S. team.
- After eight long years, Chris Creveling made his first world cup team in 2012, helping Team USA to the relay bronze medal in his second-ever world cup event. Creveling’s mother moved cross-country from Florida to California to live with friends so she could afford to support her son’s training.
- High school senior and straight-A student Sarah Chen lives with her grandparents in Salt Lake City, while her family lives in California so she can train with the U.S. national team. In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, she also plays the cello.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Celski had a breakout performance at the 2010 Olympic Games, where he won the bronze medal in both the 1,500-meter and 5,000 relay. In 2012-13, he set the world record in the 500 with a time of 39.937, making him the fastest men’s skater in the world. Celski earned a spot on the U.S. World Championships Team and continues to be a top competitor in the sport.
Creveling got off to a great start in 2012-13, earning a spot on the national team and his first world cup bid. After a successful inline skating career, Creveling transitioned to the ice through the Wheels to Ice Program in 2007. Fast forward five years and Creveling is already turning heads on the ice, winning the 1,000 and finishing second overall at the 2012 Short Track National Championships.
Gehring aided Team USA to the bronze medal in the 3,000 relay at the 2010 Games. Two years later, she won silver and bronze medals in the relay and 500 at the 2012 World Championships. The U.S. World Championships Team member was also named overall national champion in 2012-13.
After consistently making world cup teams in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Scott knows what it takes to compete at the elite level. She helped the U.S. capture the silver medal in the 3,000 relay at the 2012 World Championships, and finished the year ranked eighth overall in the 1,500. With multiple near-podium finishes in the first part of 2012-13, Scott has her eyes set on the medal stand and an Olympic berth.
Smith earned multiple podium finishes during the 2011-12 campaign, placing third in the 500 at world cup events in Salt Lake City and Shanghai, while also taking second place in the 3,000 relay at the world championships. The first part of the 2012-13 season saw her narrowly miss the podium, but she earn a spot on the U.S. World Championships Team.
The U.S. can carry a maximum of 10 short track speedskaters, including five men and five women, for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. No more than three U.S. athletes may compete in each of the men’s and women’s 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-meter events, while a maximum of one team of each gender may be entered in the team relays (women’s 3,000, men’s 5,000).
Quota places are earned based on results achieved in the four Special Olympic Qualification Classifications at two ISU World Cup competitions to be held between September and December 2013.
Athletes will be selected to compete at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games based on performances at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Jan. 2-5.
|Dec. 27-Jan. 1||U.S. Olympic Trials||Kearns, Utah|