J.R. Celski proved he’s still on track, and 17-year-old Maame Biney served notice that she’s ready for the elite world stage during the three-day 2017 Short Track World Cup Qualifiers that finished up on Sunday at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah.
Celski and Biney were the overall men’s and women’s winners for the weekend that contested the 1,500-meter on Friday, the 500 on Saturday and the 1,000 on Sunday, and claimed the overall AmCup1 titles.
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Celski won the 500, tied for second overall in the 1,500 and finished second in the 1,000, while Biney won the 500 and placed third in the 1,000. She finished third and second in Friday’s 1,500 to 2014 Olympian Jessica Kooreman and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Lana Gehring. Gehring won the first 1,000 on Sunday and was the only woman to break 1:32 (1:31.981).
Celski, a three-time Olympic medalist who still holds the world record in the 500 with a time of 39.937, set in 2012, went 41.578 in his first final and 51.794 in the second in Saturday’s 500 competition.
Biney went 43.873 and 44.201 to win by more than two-tenths of a second in both 500 races.
“The 500-meter is hands down my favorite race,” said Biney. “It’s short and fast and those are my two favorite things about skating, going really fast in a short race."
Kooreman swept the women’s 1,500-meter on the opening day of competition, edging Gehring in the first run, 2:30.160 to Gehring’s 2:30.215, and then holding on in the second run to eke past Biney in 2:23.754 to Biney’s 2:23.756. In the 1,000, two-time Olympic medalist Katherine Reutter won the overall title by placing third and second in the two races with times of 1:32.761 and 1:36.034.
In the men’s action, Celski and John-Henry Krueger swapped first and third in their 1,500 races with Celski winning the opener in 2:26.697 and Krueger taking the second in 2:38.583.
Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.