SALT LAKE CITY (AP) U.S. Speedskating began the process of filling out its ISU World Cup team Saturday by hosting the Short Track World Cup Qualifier. More than 50 skaters are competing this weekend, but a pair of former Olympians have their eyes on one more Olympic medal.
Three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski is back from a disappointing 2015 that saw him deal with an MCL injury. He won the 1,000 meters in 1:25.427 as John-Henry Krueger (1:25.541) and Adam Callister (1:25.895) followed. Celski won bronze in the 1,500 and 5,000 relay in 2010 at the Vancouver Games. He took silver with the 5,000 relay team in 2014 at the Sochi Games.
Celski began his chase for a third consecutive Olympics on Saturday with the first step being to qualify for the World Cup team.
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''I know I have responsibilities as the older guy on the team … to kind of instill that knowledge and carry these guys forward,'' Celski said. ''I'm looking forward to competing internationally and comparing myself and seeing where I'm at in terms of the field internationally.
''Going into Sochi I was really happy to go compete in my second games. But after that I knew the job wasn't done. So I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time.''
Celeski also won the 1,500 Saturday in 2:24.638. Krueger (2:24.667) and Ryan Pivirotto (2:24.905) finished second and third.
Two-time Olympic medalist Katherine Reutter returned from retirement to win the 1,500 in 2:26.135. Hip and back injuries, which included multiple surgeries, caused her to walk away from competition in 2013 and start coaching at the ASE Academy of Skating Excellence in Milwaukee. Kimberly Goetz (2:26.236) and Kristen Santos (2:27.064) crossed the line next.
Reutter won silver in the 1,000 meters and bronze in the 3,000 relay in 2010, but was content coaching. Then friends kept noting how she seemed happier when she was skating. The competitor inside was ready to be unleashed once she learned to manage the injuries and she slowly began training in November. Now the challenge is for Reutter to manage her mental habits – staying calm and regulating her normal high, nervous energy.
''Before it was like win or die,'' Reutter said. ''Not even win or lose. … Winning or losing was very personal. Today it feels very much like, thankful I even have the opportunity to win. I don't have to win.
''I'd love to be in the top four this weekend. I feel really strongly about the U.S. having a kick-butt relay team again because we haven't won a relay medal since 2012. I'm really hungry for a relay medal.''
Jessica Smith-Kooreman won the 1,000 in 1:13.910 while Kimberly Goetz finished in 1:32.347 and Reutter crossed the line in 1:33.366.