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Road to Sochi/J.R. Celski

(News Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan is profiling U.S. athletes leading up to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, which begin Feb. 7)

Celski, 23, is the USA's pack leader and leading hope for gold
in short track speedskating. He'll step into the void left by
legendary Apolo Anton Ohno, who retired with eight Olympic medals, the
most ever by an American winter athlete.

Celski hails from Federal Way, Wash., the same Seattle suburb
as Ohno, his good friend and mentor. He'll compete in the 500,
1,000 and 1,500 meters in Sochi. Celski won two bronze medals
at the 2010 Olympics -- in the 1,500 meters and the 5,000-
meter relay, where he was on a relay with Ohno.

It was a minor miracle that Celski even made it to Vancouver.
At the 2010 U.S. Trials, his right skate slashed his left thigh in
a crash, spurting blood on the ice and nearly severing his
femoral artery. Four months later, he was on the podium.

Celski, an honors student in high school, planned to attend
Cal-Berkeley after the 2010 Games. Instead, he started a
business to promote the Seattle arts scene and took a year off
to rekindle his love for skating. 

An English teacher once told Celski, "School is a place; the
Olympics float in time."

Once again, that time is upon him.

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