Celski's family hopeful on recovery time

MARQUETTE, Mich. -- The family of short track speedskater J.R. Celski, injured in a crash at the U.S. nationals, is "very optimistic" about a full recovery that will allow him to continue training for the Vancouver Olympics.

U.S. Speedskating executive director Bob Crowley said in a statement early Sunday that he spoke to Celski's family, which was at a hospital where the skater had surgery on his left leg after crashing during the semifinals of the 500 meters Saturday night.

"They're very optimistic for a full recovery," Crowley said, quoting the family. "He'll be flying back to Salt Lake on Monday and will visit with Dr. Eric Heiden. They're hoping to have him back on a bike in three weeks to continue training for the Olympic Games."

U.S. Speedskating did not provide details on the type and extent of Celski's injury or give a timetable for his rehabilitation. Celski trains with the national team in Salt Lake City.

Heiden, an orthopedic surgeon, won five gold medals in speedskating at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

Celski hit the boards coming out of a turn and bounced off them. The first few inches of his right skate blade sliced into his left leg near the knee, spilling blood on the ice and stunning the crowd into silence.

The race was stopped while emergency personnel tended to Celski before he was removed on a stretcher.

The 19-year-old skater from Federal Way, Wash., finished second behind Apolo Anton Ohno in the overall point standings, enough to qualify him for a spot on his first Olympic team.

Ohno texted with Celski after the crash.

"He sounded like he was OK and in good spirits," Ohno said. "I've heard it's not as bad as it looked on the ice. He's one of our guys, he's skating amazing. I'm sure J.R. will be back very soon. He's a strong kid."

U.S. Speedskating did not provide an update on 2006 Olympian Maria Garcia of Carson, Calif., who crashed into the boards in her 500 meter semifinal heat. She was taken to the same hospital as Celski for evaluation. Garcia did not qualify for the Olympic team.