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Olympic Short Track Skaters Unfazed By Long Shadow Of Retired Apolo Ohno

Noelle Neu
Apolo Ohno leads the pack in this 2004 file photo.

  When the American short track speedskaters take the ice at the Winter Olympics next week, they'll be without their biggest star who retired after the Vancouver Games.

Apolo Ohno is the Northwest's most decorated Olympian and still the most recognized name in speedskating. At a press conference in Sochi Tuesday morning, the next generation of U.S. Olympic skaters said Ohno's legacy remains with them on the ice.

"I had somebody great to look up to in Apolo," says medal hopeful J.R. Celski, who comes from the same hometown of Federal Way, Wash., as his former idol. "He went out there and did his thing and brought home eight Olympic medals for our country He was also trying to push the boundaries of our sport and chasing that dream as well. So I try to emulate that in everything I do."

Celski will have four chances to win medals in Sochi to catch up to Ohno. He picked up two bronze medals in Vancouver four years ago.

Meanwhile, Apolo Ohno will be in attendance in Sochi. He'll do color commentary on the NBC Olympics broadcast.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.