KEARNS For Katherine Reutter, it was like a coming-of-age moment.
The 19-year-old rising star of the U.S. short track speedskating team has not been skating in World Cup competition for long. But a week ago in Quebec she qualified for a final in one event and said some of her competitors didn't really know who she was or what to expect from her.
This weekend, skating at the Utah Olympic Oval in front of a friendly audience and on familiar ice, Reutter was not only noticed, she was planned for.
"They adjusted their strategy," she said. "They were more defensive. I think it's a compliment when another skater looks at you and says 'You're good.' "
Not only is she good, she's getting better.
Reutter had a successful day in the qualifying rounds and advanced to the quarterfinals in the 1,500 and 1,000 after winning her heat in the longer race and placing second in the 1,000.
"She's skating really well," Apolo Anton Ohno, himself a skater accustomed to being targeted by opponents as the person to beat. "It's really good to see her doing this."
Ohno had a splendid day on the ice as well. The Olympic gold medalist and dancing superstar made a decisive move to give the Americans a huge advantage in the 5,000 relay and also had individual wins in the 1,000 and 1,500 as he also moves into quarterfinal rounds.
I'm still getting a feel for it," said Ohno, who is entered in only his second world cup event of the season. "I haven't been skating much this year. It's good to be back."
Reutter is back on the ice after a big crash in Quebec knocked her out of a couple of races. She's feeling better and intent on showing she has not lost a step.
"This is a high-pressure competition, with it being at home," she said. "Every single round it's just nerves. Everyone here is so good there's really a lot of pressure. But you have to be able to focus and not let that get to you."
While Ohno and Reutter appear to be the best bets to earn podium places in the finals that will be held today and Sunday, there are plenty of other notable performances.
J.P. Kepka will be shooting for a medal in the 500, as will Simon Cho. Jordan Malone also advanced to the next round of competition in the 1,000, as did Charles Ryan Leveille both winning their heats.
"We want to show everybody this is our home," Kepka said. "It's really important for us to do well here."
The U.S. women got a big finish from Allison Baver and Kimberly Derrick to polish off the effort from Carly Wilson and Lana Gehring to win their 3,000 relay heat.The competition, the final world cup event of the season, wraps up today with finals in the 1,500 and 500 for both the men and women while Sunday's finals include a second round of the 500, the men's and women's 1,000 and wraps up with the relay races that feature 16 skaters circumnavigating the ice for as many as 45 laps.
Kearns oval, 6 p.m.
Women's 3,000 relay semis
Men's 5,000 relay semis