Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stars Back on Their Feet U.S. Skaters Rodriguez, Ohno Ready to Race after Spills

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stars Back on Their Feet U.S. Skaters Rodriguez, Ohno Ready to Race after Spills

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

SALT LAKE CITY -- One slipped at the start. The other got shoved near the finish.

Jennifer Rodriguez recovered and won the bronze in the women's 1,000 meters on the long track. Apolo Anton Ohno picked himself off the ice after the pileup and got the silver -- and six stitches in his left thigh -- in the men's 1,000 on the short track.

Tonight, the two American speedskaters will try again in their best distance -- the 1,500.

"A lot of the same girls will be in that race," said Rodriguez, a Miami native. "On any day it could be a different three. I just hope my legs aren't too tired."

Ohno is hoping his left leg isn't too sore. He was leading the 1,000 heading into the final turn when the jostling started, producing a finish that made a pre-Games description by American skater Rusty Smith sound prophetic.

"It isn't roller derby," Smith said of short-track skating. "It's NASCAR."

Ohno's story has plenty of NASCAR staples. Speed, controversy and now a famous collision. He tested the leg Monday in his first workout since the finish that Steven Bradbury, the Australian who skated from last to first in the finals, described as "freakish."

"I had pain," Ohno said in a statement released by the team." But I always have pain. That's part of the sport."

For the most part, Rodriguez and Ohno remained upbeat after the 1,000, insisting they were thrilled to get their first Olympic medals. But both are hoping for even grander things tonight.

When Ohno arrived in Salt Lake City, there even was talk of four gold medals -- talk that he scoffed at.

"The possibility of a four gold-medal sweep is . . . almost impossible," he said. "It's short track. Anything can happen."

It already has. But Ohno still has the 1,500, 5,000 and 5,000 relay.

"There's definitely a little pressure on me," he said. …

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