Ohno claims gold at ISU World Cup

trevor.pellerite

The International Skating Union held its fourth and final short track speedskating World Cup in Marquette last week, and American athletes took home four medals.

Apolo Anton Ohno led the way for the men’s team, taking silver in the 1500-meter event and gold in the 1000-meter. Ohno had been struggling with illness and back injury through much of the cup, and was pleased to earn a gold medal going into the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“It feels really good,” Ohno said. “My goals before these world cups were to be consistent, make finals and be able to play and just fight with some of these international countries, and I think I accomplished all of my goals.”

A disqualification in the 500-meter semifinals prevented Ohno from going for a third medal. After the four world cup events, Ohno is ranked in the top 10 in all three distance classifications.

Katherine Reutter was the top performer from the U.S. women’s team, taking fourth in the 500-meter (setting a new American record in the event) and second in the 1000-meter event. A fall during a qualifying heat kept her from defending her gold medal in the 1500-meter race which she earned the week prior in Montreal.

“It was my first 500-meter ‘A’ final ever, so I’m not that disappointed,” Reutter said. “I’m not a sprinter, God didn’t give me sprinting talent. All my sprinting abilities come from hard work, so I’m pretty happy about my 500 finish.”

She did say that she felt she could have performed better in the 1000-meter event, however.

“I skated a little too safe, I think. I should have been a little more aggressive and really tried to get that win, but at the time I was just trying to do my best,” she said.

Reutter finished this year’s world cup circuit ranked eighth in the 500-meter, second in the 1000-meter and third in the 1500-meter.

Only the U.S. men’s relay team made the podium, as they finished second behind the squad from Canada. The podium team was comprised of Apolo Ohno, Anthony Lobello, Simon Cho and Travis Jayner.

Cho had been sick for most of the event, so Charles Ryan Leveille, one of the team’s alternates, had been competing on the relay squad for the qualification rounds.

Jayner felt that the performance of the alternates throughout the world cup showed just how deep the American men are this year.

“I’ve been saying before the trials even happened that we could field two relay teams and we’d both make the finals and get on the podium,” he said.

The athletes were very impressed with the ice conditions in the Berry Events Center. The most tangible sign of its quality came during the 500-meter race, when Canadian Francois-Louis Tremblay and Korean Si-Bak Sung traded off breaking the world record several times. Tremblay ended up taking gold in the event, but Sung took the world record, knocking it down by nearly a half-second.

“I don’t know if Salt Lake [City] can claim that title, anymore, you know? [Of] world’s fastest ice. Nobody gets that close all the time,” said Lobello. Ohno echoed the sentiment.

“If people wanted to, I think every single record could have been smashed here this weekend, and then you wouldn’t see them broken for a few years,” said Ohno.

He was also impressed with the showing of support from the Marquette community.

“We just had fun here,” he said. “We all love coming to Marquette. The crowd here has always been phenomenal, and I think that really goes a long way.”