KEARNS Look who's back on top of the speedskating world.
Apolo Anton Ohno, who had taken the better part of the last year off as he danced with the stars, filmed commercials and otherwise capitalized on his fame during the brief window Olympic athletes often have to make money, skated a scintillating 1,000-meter final and held off a furious charge from Korea's Lee Seung-Hoon at the line to win the gold medal in the event and announce to the world that he's still the man to beat in the sport.
"It's very satisfying," Ohno said after stepping off the top of the podium. "It's been an interesting two years for me, so this was very good for me." Ohno started the race in the third position but made a quick move around the outside on the third lap of the 10-lap race and held onto the race as bodies slipped, slid and crashed into the padded walls behind him. Only Lee survived that carnage in the final and was there to challenge Ohno. But skating a tactical final lap, Ohno held onto the inside edge and looked as though he had to push aside Lee's hand on the final turn to prevent being interfered with himself.
"That's my favorite," he said of having a battle with a single competitor for the final few laps after the crash. "One on one, I like that better." The Ohno gold medal was the clear highlight of the final day of racing at the Utah Olympic Oval. But it was hardly the only noteworthy performance for the Americans as they closed out the World Cup season with their best team performance of the year.
Katherine Reutter continued her ascent up the world rankings as she picked up her second silver medal of the weekend with a strong effort in the women's 1,000. Reutter finished behind China's Meng Wang. The Chinese superstar is virtually unbeatable in the event and has yet to lose this season. But Reutter's runner-up finish was certainly cause to celebrate as she pumped her fist and slapped hands with fans along the ice.
"I have many more steps to go before I can challenge Meng Wang," Reutter said. "So I'm definitely happy." Reutter, along with Allison Baver, Kimberly Derrick and Carly Wilson, teamed up for a third-place finish in the 3,000 relay.
The 19-year-old won three medals two silvers and the relay bronze to have one of the best World Cup performances by an American in years.
The U.S. three medals won on Sunday afternoon, added to the three earned during Saturday's 1,500 finals, tripled the previous high from the American team in a World Cup event this season.
"It's been a while since we've had this many people on the podium," Ohno said, "so this is very good." Otherwise, it was a difficult day on the ice for the Americans as Jeff Simon who broke a collarbone in a crash J.P Kepka and Simon Cho each saw podium opportunities end in disappointment because of crashes.
Still, the American squad is on a roll with eight podium finishes in the past two weeks and a head of steam and confidence as they approach the world championships next month in Korea."I'll be ready for that," Simon said while his arm was in a sling to protect the broken left collarbone. "Even though I didn't have a lot of wins, I skated really, really well and got a lot of valuable experience. I'll be there."
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