John-Henry Krueger, Lana Gehring claim first spots on U.S. Olympic short track team
John-Henry Krueger and Lana Gehring became the first two skaters to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Olympic short track team with their performances on the first day of the Olympic Trials.
After finishing second behind three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski in the first men's 1500m final, Krueger took advantage of Celski's fall in the second 1500m final to earn a victory and enough points to clinch an Olympic berth.
The triumph came four years after Krueger, then 18 years old, suffered a disastrous 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials. Hoping to make his first Olympic team, Krueger fell twice in the 1500m semifinals before realizing the nausea he was experiencing wasn't due to nerves.
He had swine flu.
Unable to keep food down and highly contagious, Krueger withdrew from the rest of the Trials. His long wait for another shot at the Olympics ended tonight.
The U.S. men earned five Olympic berths for PyeongChang, so Celski will likely join Krueger on the team. He'll have two more days of racing to earn one of the four open spots.
The U.S. women are racing for just three spots on the Olympic team, since they didn't qualify a spot in the women's relay event at the Olympics.
Before clinching her place on the team, Gehring survived a chaotic crash in the women's 1500m #2 final that took out three of the six competitors. Katherine Reutter-Adamek, a Vancouver Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist, was judged to have caused the crash and was penalized. The remaining five skaters reraced, and Gehring was able to hold off Jessica Kooreman, a Sochi Olympian, at the finish line to get the win.
Gehring is a Vancouver Olympian and bronze medalist who retired after also missing the Sochi Olympic team. She unretired to try long track speed skating before returning to short track.
Racing will continue on Saturday with the 500m races and conclude Sunday with the 1000m.