J.R. Celski

J.R. Celski watches Seahawks win Super Bowl with Heiden, Holcomb

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SOCHI, Russia — Noted Seahawks fan J.R. Celski shared his dreary-eyed Super Bowl excitement with a pair of Olympic champions.

Celski, a two-time Olympic medalist short track speed skater from Federal Way, Wash., woke up at 3:30 a.m. Monday and watched the Seahawks take a 22-0 lead after two quarters on a stream in the Sochi Olympic Village.

He then took a halftime nap and watched the finishing touches of a 43-8 blowout of the Denver Broncos on a Slingbox provided by 2010 Olympic champion bobsledder Steven Holcomb.

They were joined by US Speedskating team doctor Eric Heiden, the five-time 1980 Olympic champion.

“I’m still kind of recovering right now from it,” Celski said following a weight session and on-ice practice at the Iceberg Skating Palace. “It was not a stressful game at all.

“I wish it was more exciting, but I’m happy with the outcome. It kind of made me question if it was worth getting up that early,” he joked.

A fourth person joined them, a U.S. team staff member and Broncos fan. She was more emotional about it than any of the men, including the soft-spoken Heiden.

“It was interesting watching [Heiden],” Celski said. “He didn’t really react to anything. I think he wanted the ‘Hawks to win.”

Celski said he nearly fell asleep during the second quarter, abstaining from coffee, before resting his eyes and missing the Bruno Mars halftime show.

Altogether, Celski said he got seven hours of sleep.

“He woke up, he got ready, put some makeup on,” teammate and longtime friend Eddy Alvarez said. “He looks good.”

Celski, 23, has been a Seahawks fan since he “was out the womb” and remembered the disappointment in 2006 when they lost Super Bowl XL to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Actually, at that time I was disappointed with my skating, too,” Celski said. “I took a year after that off. I was on a downhill slope. I wasn’t having fun with it. I’ve been watching the rise of the ‘Hawks for the past couple years, seeing things come into motion and players being placed on the team. It’s funny them winning the Super Bowl now. I hope it’s mirrored in my performance [in Sochi].”

Celski plans to march in the Opening Ceremony on Friday and opens competition in the 1500m next Monday.

American short track skater now competes for Italy

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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