Winter Olympian J.R. Celski greets Issaquah fans
March 4, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 12:10 p.m. March 4, 2010
Federal Way native and bronze-medal speed skater J.R. Celski met more than 200 fans during a visit to the Issaquah branch of 24 Hour Fitness on Wednesday evening.
For almost two hours, Celski signed autographs, posed for photographs and displayed one of the two bronze medals he won at the Vancouver Olympics last month. The stopover at 24 Hour Fitness — one of Celski’s sponsors — marked his first post-Olympics appearance in the Seattle area.
The skater earned bronze medals 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.