J.R. Celski, 23, is the American speed skater who is expected to bring home a medal or two at the Sochi games. A Californian by birth, Celski was previously an in-line skating prodigy before switching to speed skating after watching the 2002 Olympics.
Here’s what you need to know about one of Team USA’s great hopes:
1. Just Prior to the 2010 Olympics, He Suffered an Horrific Injury
With just five months to go before the 2010 Vancouver Games, Celski fell during a skate and his right blade slashed into his left thigh, reported The Seattle Times. It left his participation in the games uncertain. Through hard work, Celski made the games.
2. He Was Featured on NBC’s ‘How to Raise an Olympian’
On February 5, NBC aired How to Raise an Olympian, a one hour special that showed the home life of seven of Team USA’s members. The show tracked Celski’s childhood and spoke to a number of his coaches.
3. One of his Medals in 2010 Came After a Fellow Competitors Accident
During the 2010 games, as Celski, won two bronze medals. In the 1500 meter final, with two South Korean skaters in front of him in the standings, Lee Ho-Suk and Sung Si-Bak, collided with each other during the last lap.
4. He Deferred College to Promote Seattle’s Art Scene
After competing in 2010, Celski had been due to start classes at Berkeley. He decided to defer his studies in favor of a new business venture that involved supporting and promoting Seattle’s art scene. His company is called M.A.D. Northwest.
In 2013, Celski released his hip-hop documentary, The Otherside, about rap music in the pacific northwest.
5. His Brother, Patrick, is a U.S. Army Captain
He comes from a military family, his brother, Patrick, is a U.S. Army captain and his father, Bob, also graduated from West Point. Celski was born in Monterrey but attended high school in Federal Way, Washington, graduating with honors in the Merit Scholars Program. ABC News reports that Celski now calls Salt Lake City his hometown.