KEARNS — Eddy Alvarez knows exactly how to come back from a bad day.
One day after a disqualification in the first of two 1,500-meter races kept him off the podium Friday, he managed to earn a silver medal Saturday thanks to some mental tricks, fearless skating and a little help from a childhood friend.
“I just try to keep my composure,” said the veteran short-track speedskater who earned a spot on the U.S. World Cup team with a second-place finish overall in the 500-meter events. “Yesterday was a tough day for me. I know that I have the speed and the passing ability. So I try to stay calm, and I get behind J.R.”
He was joking about Olympian J.R. Celski — but not entirely.
Celski’s consistency reigned for a third-straight day at the U.S. short-track single distance championships at the Utah Olympic Oval Saturday as the Seattle native won both 500-meter finals to claim the overall championship. He won the 1,500-meter championship Friday.
In fact, Celski has been so consistent that he’d crossed the finish line first in every race — from time trials to quarterfinals to finals — until his second semifinal Saturday when he finished second to Chris Creveling in the heat. When asked about it, he wasn’t even aware of his dominance.
“It was just a semi, so I took it a little easy, well not easy, but leading gets a little tough, especially in the 500,” Celski said. Chris came by me with a great pass.”
And for the first time in three days, Celski was satisfied to follow, although not for long. He came out in the finals and skated the dominant, aggressive style that’s kept him on top of the podium this weekend.
When asked how Celski skates so consistently in such an unpredictable sport, Alvarez laughs and changes his voice to a more sing-song tone.
“Because he skate so pretty,” he laughs. And then he gets serious about the man he’s known since the two of them were first-graders. “He’s an unbelievable athlete and unbelievable on his skates so it’s good. I like seeing him a little bit in front of me. It gives me a goal.”
The two enjoy just about the friendliest rivalry around, even exchanging a handshake they developed before taking their places on the podium Saturday.
“One and two for me and him, that’s my brother from another mother,” said Alvarez. “We’ve known each other since we were 6 years old.”
Celski said the two have reversed roles in recent years.
“When we first started, he always beat me,” said Celski. “We always kind of battled, and at the end of the day, I really looked up to that kid. He took a break for a while, and I took a break for a while. Now we’re back short-track racing and butting heads again, so it’s cool.”
Celski said despite his success in the 500, he felt he had something to prove in the event.
“I did pretty good last year, and I wanted to prove to myself that I was going to skate it well,” he said. “It felt really nice. The 500 is a fun distance.”
It’s a difficult distance as skaters have to balance their desire to attack with finding the right moment in the shortest distance in which they compete.
“That’s the hard part about the 500: It’s about finding balance,” Celski said. “You’ve got to find the balance between rushing and relaxing. If you can find that, you’re speed is going to be there and you’ll be comfortable. It’s either really short or really long, and if you can make it longer, you can race without panicking.”
- BYU football: Cougars to play Washington in...
- Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette likes coming...
- Former Cougar Dennis Pitta scores first...
- Utah football: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham...
- Utah State football: Aggies will take on No....
- Dick Harmon: John Beck very impressed with...
- Crystal ball commentary: National...
- Utah Jazz: Derrick Favors, Marvin Williams...
- BYU football: Cougars to play... 97
- Dick Harmon: Are we spending too much... 62
- Commentary: Long-term success in... 52
- Dick Harmon: How would BYU's Taysom... 46
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes bounce... 43
- Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette likes... 31
- BYU vs. No. 21 UMass live blog:... 27
- Florida St-Auburn title game to usher... 27