Short track speedskater J.R. Celski injured in crash at Olympic trials

By Beth Harris, AP
Saturday, September 12, 2009

Short track skater Celski injured in crash

MARQUETTE, Mich. — J.R. Celski underwent surgery on his left leg after being injured in a crash at the U.S. short track speedskating championships Saturday night, but it won’t keep him off the Olympic team.

Celski fell in his 500 meter semifinal heat at the hockey rink on the Northern Michigan University campus.

He hit the boards coming out of a turn and bounced off them. The first few inches of his right skate blade sliced into his left leg near the knee, spilling blood on the ice.

Celski yelled as emergency personnel rushed onto the ice and applied pressure to try and stop the heavy blood flow. The race was stopped while he was tended to for several minutes before being removed on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.

U.S. Speedskating president Brad Goskowicz said Celski was undergoing surgery at Marquette General Hospital to determine the extent of his injury.

Jeff Simon of Las Vegas hit the boards skates-first earlier in the heat, but he wasn’t hurt. Anthony Lobello Jr., a 2006 Olympian, was disqualified for impeding Simon.

Celski, a 19-year-old skater from Federal Way, Wash., was second behind Apolo Anton Ohno in the overall point standings when he was injured.

U.S. Speedskating said in a statement that Celski’s total of 4,752 points would be enough for him to be nominated to the Olympic team. The top five men and women qualify for the Vancouver Games.

The only thing still up in the air was Celski’s standing in the individual classifications for the 500 and 1,000 meters.

He won the 1,500 earlier in the meet, ensuring that he can finish no lower than second in that classification, no matter the outcome of Saturday’s races.

Celski was the second skater taken off by stretcher on the meet’s final night. Maria Garcia, a 2006 Olympian from Carson, Calif., crashed into the boards in her 500 semifinal heat.

Garcia was at the same hospital as Celski and was undergoing evaluation, Goskowicz said.

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