KEARNS — Each time Lana Gehring decided it was time, she hit another gear and was gone.
Never mind that it was short track speed skating, where anything can typically happen.
Gehring made it look easy, winning five of six races over three days to claim the U.S. Short Track National Championship on Sunday.
"It's very exciting; it's my first one ever," Gehring said of winning a national title.
To win five races — the 500, 1,000, 1,500, 3,000 super final and a time trial — was as impressive as the extra gear she showed throughout the competition.
"It's short track," Gehring said. "You never know who's going to finish. Sometimes it doesn't matter how good you're skating. It's been a great weekend for me. I feel very fortunate."
The only person not surprised was U.S. short track coach Jae Su Chung.
"It's not a surprise for me when I see her training times," Chung said. "She is the strongest, fastest girl in the U.S. and for high-speed, top speed, she's No. 1 skater in the world."
He said once Gehring builds up her endurance and confidence, she should be a force for the 2014 Olympics.
Simon Cho, meanwhile, showed he already has made great strides since being diagnosed Aug. 1 with a lower-back fracture.
He won the 1,000-meter race Sunday to lock up the men's overall title, won last year by Jeff Simon, who is not skating this season because of a similar back fracture.
"This is my first national championship title and to have done that with an injury, I'm really pleased," Cho said.
Travis Jayner, at 29 the oldest member of the men's team, won the 3,000-meter race to finish second overall. Jordan Malone was third overall and John Henry-Krueger fourth.
The top three qualify to skate individually at the world championships in Shanghai in March.
Katherine Reutter, the four-time defending national champion, finished second in the 1,000 Sunday but fifth overall.
A five-member selection committee made two-time Olympic bronze medalist J.R. Celski a discretionary pick. He is recovering from a serious ankle injury suffered a month ago, and will be eligible to compete in individual events in the remaining World Cups but only in the relay at worlds.
Reutter could have been a discretionary pick as well. But she said Sunday she will have surgery on both hips immediately rather than try to press on at less than 100 percent.
The women's team is still strong even with Reutter out.
Alyson Dudek took silver in the 500, and bronze in the 1,000, 3,000, 1,500 and four-lap time trial to finish second overall at nationals. Jessica Smith was third overall and Emily Scott fourth. Vancouver Olympian Kimberly Derrick was a discretionary pick as was Tamara Frederick, who is competing in her inaugural World Cup season.
On Sunday, Gehring used an explosive move to grab the lead in the 1,000 with three laps to go. She quickly put six meters between her competitors.
Jayner, meanwhile, was finally celebrating what he called a legitimate individual win at nationals.
"The only other time I won a race at a U.S. Championship was the 500 a few years ago when everyone fell," Jayner said.
He said he draws inspiration from other older athletes who have made comebacks.
"I wasn't as good as these guys when I was their age, so I'm trying to make the most of it now," Jayner said.
Reutter opts to have double hip surgery
KEARNS — Two-time Olympic medalist and defending 1,500 world champion Katherine Reutter will have surgery on both hips as soon as possible and miss the rest of the season.
Reutter was the four-time defending U.S. Short Track National Champion but managed only fifth overall Sunday. Hips that are impinged are causing back problems, making it difficult to train and compete.
She said she realized this weekend that she simply had to do something drastic with hopes that she could make a full recovery for next season.
Reutter's gold in the 1,500 in March made her the first U.S. woman since Bonnie Blair in 1986 to win a world title. She has won six World Cup medals this season so far — three gold, two silver and a bronze — heading into nationals.