US Olympic Speedskating 2014: Short-Track Team Will Leave Controversy Behind

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US Olympic Speedskating 2014: Short-Track Team Will Leave Controversy Behind
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Team USA is expected to bring back multiple medals from the speedskating events in Sochi. Both the men's and women's teams have top contenders for gold on the long track.

On the short track, things aren't looking quite as bright, which is understandable considering the chaos that group is trying to overcome. 

More on the chaos and controversy in a moment. First, have a look at the vitals for the action.

 

Where: Sochi, Russia

Watch: NBC has the coverage on its various networks. Here is a link to NBC’s broadcast schedule.

Speedskating Schedule: View the full schedule at Sochi2014.comSpeedskating action will begin on Feb. 8 and conclude on Feb. 22. 

 

The short-track team is still trying to recover from the resignation of controversial coach Jae Su Chun, the suspension of a key skater and the void left by the retirement of legend Apolo Anton Ohno.

Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press

In case you're not up to speed on all the drama surrounding this group, the suspended skater is 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Simon Cho. He was suspended for good reason, as he admitted to tampering with a competitor's skate before an event.  

That wasn't all Cho had to say, either. He also added that he was instructed to do so by Su Chun.

That was far from the only allegation Chun has faced. No less than 12 Team USA short-track skaters accused Chun of physical and mental abuse.  

All of this understandably took its toll on the team. At the 2013 World Championships, the Americans won just three medals

I expect Sochi to go better for the Americans. 

On the women's side, Jessica Smith is the clear class of the team. She won the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters at the trials. 

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

At 30, this will be her first trip to the Olympics. She narrowly missed out in 2010, but she has made huge strides in the last four years. Chun is a huge reason why. In fact, she values his technical coaching so much that she's kept him on as a private coach. 

Now she is set to possibly bring back multiple medals, but she is not the short-track skaters' best medal hopeful. 

That honor belongs to J.R. Celski.  

He is just 23, but he's experienced. At the age of 19, he took home two bronze medals from the Vancouver Games after he bruised his femoral artery at the trials in a blood-gushing crash. 

After the 2010 Olympics, Celski took a year off from the ice. He came back a more mature competitor. 

Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune passed along this quote from Celski on his return to the ice: "I developed this — I don't know, like a burning love almost inside of me that I just wanted to get up and I just wanted to skate every single day and get better."

Celski enters these Olympics as the 500-meter world record holder, and he's looked good recently. In fact, according to the Associate Press via ESPN, he only lost a single race during the U.S. trials.

I expect an outstanding Olympics from Celski, as he takes the mantle left open by Ohno and helps lead this team back to glory. 

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