Olympic speed skater J.R. Celski visits Issaquah on Wednesday

March 2, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 12:30 p.m. March 2, 2010

Federal Way native and bronze-medal speed skater J.R. Celski will make his first post-Olympics appearance in the Seattle area at the Issaquah branch of 24 Hour Fitness on Wednesday afternoon.

Celski, 19, will meet with fans, display his medals, pose for photos and sign autographs during at 24 Hour Fitness – Issaquah Black Nugget Road Super Sport Club, 5712 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway S.E., No. 200.

The free event runs from 5:30-7 p.m.

The skater earned bronze hardware in the men’s 1,500-meter race and the men’s 5,000-meter relay at the just-concluded Vancouver Olympics.

Celski, once a champion in-line skater, turned to speed skating after watching another Seattle-area skating legend — Apolo Anton Ohno — at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Ohno earned eight medals at the Vancouver games to become the most-decorated U.S. Winter Olympian ever.

Celski competed in Vancouver after a devastating accident last September during the Olympic Trials. A skate blade gashed his left thigh to the bone, and missed his femoral artery by only a few centimeters. But emergency surgery and intense rehab enabled him to compete in the 2010 games.

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