KEARNS, Utah – Short-track speedskating Olympic hopeful Chris Creveling was headed to the locker room after his time trial Thursday when he was spotted by eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno, now retired and providing commentary for NBC.
“Great time trial, man. Feel good?” Ohno offered, patting him on the shoulder.
The exchange was fitting as short track begins selecting its first Olympic team in more than decade without its most decorated skater. The U.S. has captured 12 medals since Ohno made his debut at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and catapulted the sport to a new level.
“A lot of the athletes that I trained with … these guys are here now and they’re skating better than ever,” said Ohno, 31. “This is a sport that can grow very quickly and it clicks. It’s like the ‘aha’ moment.”
Creveling, who set a personal record at the trials to finish second in the 1,000 meters, is one of 16 skaters vying for five spots on a men’s team headed to Sochi, Russia, in February. The 500 meters is today.
“I feel better than ever and I want to stay that way and keep ramping it up,” Creveling said.
The trials at the Utah Olympic Oval come a year after short track was thrown into a tailspin amid a skate-tampering scandal that resulted in the resignation of its national coach, division among athletes and chaos from the governing body.