As the U.S. Olympic Committee prepares for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, there are still a few spots yet to be filled. The trials for short track speedskating will be held at Salt Lake City, Utah, starting on Jan. 3 and concluding on Jan. 5, concluding a long season of trials for various winter sports.
Former short track phenom Apolo Anton-Ohno shared his excitement for the upcoming trials, noting he'll be there every day covering the event for NBC:
Here's a peek at the three-day television schedule, followed by a closer look at some top storylines as the athletes prepare for the action:
|Friday, Jan. 3||Short Track||Men’s/Women’s 1500m||NBCSN||8 p.m.|
|Saturday, Jan. 4||Short Track||Men’s/Women’s 500m||NBCSN||4 p.m.|
|Sunday, Jan. 5||Short Track||Men’s/Women’s 1000m||NBC||4 p.m.|
Unfortunately, the U.S. won't send a women's relay team to Sochi after the team was disqualified during heats at a World Cup event in Kolomna, Russia, as reported by Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports.
This is an unfortunate turn of events for the U.S. women's team, because the only medal earned in Vancouver back in 2010 came in the relay. Additionally, the lack of a relay team likely means there will be fewer spots available.
The reason for this is that there are four women who are being viewed as top contenders for what could be just three open spots, depending on how things play out in the three trials, as detailed by NBCOlympics.com:
Essentially, there are very few positions available for the U.S. women in short track, and it will be a tight competition to see who will be going to Sochi.
There are four women who seem poised to battle it out for the three spots, and those women are Lana Gehring, Jessica Smith, Alyson Dudek and Emily Scott.
Given the stakes, however, it's quite possible one of the other competitors will emerge as a surprise addition with a strong performance at these upcoming trials.
There are a couple of promising skaters on the men's side, as it pertains to the upcoming Winter Games.
J.R. Celski recently had a huge showing at the ISU World Cup in Kolomna, winning the gold in the 1,500-meter race, anchoring a gold-medal performance in the team's 5,000-meter relay and finishing in third place in the 1,000-meter race.
He expressed his excitement afterward, as detailed by Casey Olson of the Federal Way Mirror:
I’m really happy to have won gold in the 1,500. It’s really cool to have the opportunity to race the best skaters in the world and I’m grateful to have come out on top. This competition is important as we are qualifying spots for the Olympics, so it’s nice to know that the USA can compete and win on this level.
Another top contender who'll be competing at the upcoming trials is Eddy Alvarez, who earned a bronze medal in the 500-meter race at World Cup Shanghai.
Alvarez is hoping to make it to Sochi after missing out on an opportunity to compete in Vancouver four years ago. He injured both of his knees before the 2010 Winter Games, but the 24-year-old speedskater is pumped about the chance to earn a trip this year, as Chris Clark of NBC Miami reports:
I want it bad. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I dream about it. I wake up and it’s one of the first things I think of.
This was a dream, a goal of mine since I was a kid. I want to stand on that podium. I want to represent my country and my background, my family, my parents, so it’s a lot more than just making the team. But it’s a step at a time. I can’t think too far ahead, because the first goal is to get on the team.
The action will be tense once the athletes hit the ice in Utah. However, you'd never know these guys were about to put their hard work on the line judging by this recent photo, posted by Travis Jayner:
All work and no play makes John a dull boy.
These men are clearly not dull, and they're going to give it all they have when the trials begin on Friday, Jan. 3.
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