Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3

J.R. Celski finishes 4th in short track 1500m; Canada’s Charles Hamelin wins

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J.R. Celski has opened his Sochi Olympics with a fourth-place finish in the 1,500m final this morning at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

Celski, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist in this distance, advanced into the medal final with a win in his semifinal heat.

But in the main event, he fell back after dueling in mid-race for the lead with Canada’s Charles Hamelin and China’s Tianyu Han.

In the end, it was Hamelin who won out over Han to claim the third Olympic gold of his career. He won two golds on home ice in Vancouver four years ago (500m, 5000m relay).

MORE: NBCOlympics.com – Slideshow of Charles Hamelin’s 1500m victory

Taking the bronze was Viktor Ahn, who earned Russia’s first-ever Olympic medal in short track.

It’s the second career Olympic bronze for Ahn, who won three gold medals and his first bronze for South Korea at Torino in 2006 under his birth name, Ahn Hyun-soo.

The Seoul native became a Russian citizen in late 2011.

Meanwhile, Celski still has several events ahead of him in Sochi. So while he was unable to hit the 1500m podium today, he still has a few chances to make an impact.

SHORT TRACK – MEN’S 1500m
1. Charles Hamelin (CAN), 2:14.985
2. Tianyu Han (CHN), 2:15.055
3. Viktor Ahn (RUS), 2:15.062
4. J.R. Celski (USA), 2:15.624

19. Eddy Alvarez (USA), eliminated in semifinals
21. Chris Creveling (USA), eliminated in heats

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
AP
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career