KEARNS — While short track speedskating star Katherine Reutter picked up where she left off, fellow American J.R. Celski is learning it will take some fine-tuning in his return to international competition after a 11/2-year break.
Reutter, the defending world champion in the women's 1,500, made a strong move with 21/2 laps remaining the final Saturday at the Utah Olympic Oval to claim gold in the first World Cup short track event of the season.
Reutter edged Canada's Valerie Maltais in the 1,500, finishing in 2 minutes, 24.433 seconds. South Korea's Lee Eun-byul took the bronze.
Celski had a chance to grab silver in the men's 1,000, but was disqualified for impeding South Korea's Noh Jinkyu on the final turn.
Noh took silver (1:26.596) behind teammate Kwak Yoon-gy (1:25.996), while Canada's Francois-Louis Tremblay was third.
"I didn't have enough speed," Celski said about his failed move. "That's part of the experience, learning what I need to work on. I didn't have the endurance at the end."
He said his goal in his first World Cup race since claiming a pair of bronze medals in the Vancouver Olympics was not to win, but gain some valuable experience.
"Hopefully, at the end of the season, I'll be where I want to be, on top," said Celski, who took time off to film a documentary on Seattle's hip-hop music scene.
Kwak, meanwhile, credited his win in the 1,000 with a change in strategy after facing Celski in the semifinals. "I needed to stay ahead of him. It worked out," Kwak said through an interpreter.
Reutter, who won silver and bronze in Vancouver, was coming off her best season of skating. She was the overall World Cup champion in the 1,500 and also won the world championship in the event.
Back problems that surfaced in December, however, limited her training until recently. She credited a cheap foam pad insert in her skate with making a big difference.
Still, she estimated she was skating this weekend at only about 75 percent based on lap times.
That was enough Saturday.
"With 21/2 laps to go, I heard somebody on the outside and decided to make my move inside," Reutter said.
She then held for the win.
"The whole thing going into this weekend was to … learn how to be a more calm athlete," said Reutter, who will race in a second 1,500 World Cup event Sunday.
"I would love that," she said.
In other races Saturday, two-time Olympic gold medalist Charles Hamelin of Canada won the 1,500 men's final in 2:16.630, edging South Korea's Lee Ho-suk (2:16.842) and Lee Jung-su (2:17.021).
Japan's Yui Sakai won the ladies 1,000 in 1:31.260, just ahead of Americans Lana Gehring (1:31.278) and Alyson Dudek (1:31.494).
"The whole girls team had a good day," Dudek said. "A gold, silver and bronze and Emily Scott took fourth in the 1,500. Four girls in the top four is awesome."
Credit the home ice at the Utah Olympic Oval.
"Having the first World Cup of the season in Salt Lake is really exciting," Dudek said.
Finals in the men's and women's 500 as well as the relays are set for Sunday, along with the second 1,500.
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