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Established Names Headline Olympic Trials With Youngsters On The Rise

By Christopher Kamrani, The Salt Lake Tribune | Dec. 13, 2017, 12:42 p.m. (ET)

Kearns • J.R. Celski penned a tweet last spring that resonates more and more as the 2018 Olympic Games inch closer.

“Most people aim to do amazing things when everybody is watching,” he wrote. “Make it a habit to do them when nobody is.”

It has remained atop Celski’s Twitter profile over 18 months later, his “pinned tweet,” that he wants every one of his 27,000-plus followers to see when they pay a visit to one of his social media profiles. Celski, a three-time Olympic medalist in short-track speedskating, has made a habit of pressing on.

The years after a silver medal in the men’s relay at the Sochi Games haven’t been easy. The 27-year-old who burst onto the scene at the Vancouver Games in 2010 as a double medalist has been riddled with injury after injury. Surgery to correct a labrum injury in his hip, then a torn MCL injury that kept him off the ice for an extended period of time was followed by a pesky back injury.

Celski believes he’s finally back to himself.

“Definitely,” he said. “It’s been years, for sure.”

All eyes will be on Celski and the U.S. short-track team this weekend at the Utah Olympic Oval as the eight guaranteed spots on the line for the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, will be assigned after trials commence Friday evening in Kearns.

“It’s natural to doubt yourself when you’re faced with those injuries, where physically you don’t know if you’re going to be able to come back from,” said Celski, who won a World Cup bronze earlier this year, his 25th World Cup medal of his career. “I definitely had a lot of fears and doubts, and it took a lot to mentally push through and tell myself that the goal is ahead still and I need to get there.”

He’s almost there.

Alongside Celski, skaters such as John-Henry Krueger, Thomas Hong and Keith Carroll Jr., are expected to contend for the men’s slots. Olympic veterans such as Jessica Kooreman, Katherine Reutter-Adamek and Lana Gehring headline the women’s side. But a 17-year-old up-and-comer is turning heads this year.

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