J.R. Celski: Profile of US Speedskating Olympian for Sochi 2014

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2014

SHANGHAI, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 29:  J.R. Celski of United States team (Left) celebrates winning the Men's 5000m Relay Final during day four of the Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track at the Oriental Sports Center on September 29, 2013 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
Feng Li/Getty Images

Crash Course: Short-track speedskating Olympian J.R. Celski has proven he can bounce back from improbability. Prior to winning two bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Celski suffered a skate slash that cut his left leg to the bone, requiring 60 stitches. He caught a break when two South Korean skaters crashed in the 1,500-meter race, allowing him to take the bronze medal. He is a hip-hop fan with roots in Monterey, Calif. and Federal Way, Wash.

Sochi Dreams: Celski, 23, qualified for Sochi by winning the 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-meter short-track races at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Celski has a chance to be the next superstar in the sport that Apolo Anton Ohno previously dominated.

Athletic Profile: Celski also took home the bronze in the 5,000-meter relay in Vancouver. The speedskater won gold and set a world record in the 500-meter sprint in a 2012 World Cup event in Calgary. He garnered two golds, one silver and two bronze medals at the 2009 World Championships.

Injury History: Short-track speedskating can resemble roller derby as athletes battle for inside position while skating in tight circles. Celski suffered his deep gash at the 2009 U.S. Olympic Trials when he fell and smashed his right skate blade into his left quad. He also suffered a fractured ankle and torn ligaments in a December 2011 skating crash.

Social Profile: Celski has over 5,800 Instagram followers, over 26,000 Facebook fans and nearly 20,000 Twitter followers. His ability to return from major injuries has made him a sponsor's dream. Nike, Oakley, Liberty Mutual and TD Ameritrade are among the companies that back Celski.

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Off the Ice: Celski took a year off from speedskating following the 2010 Olympics so he could produce a documentary called "The Otherside," a film about the hip-hop scene in Seattle. 

Quote: "I am excited. I know that this year is going to be a good year. We have a lot of good, healthy and talented guys coming up and I think we are going to be a force to reckon with around the world."—Celski to the Associated Press, via ESPN.