Brothers Cole and John-Henry Krueger of Peters Township have been preparing 15 years for this weekend. And, despite the highest of stakes hanging over them at the U.S. Olympic Short Track Speed Skating Trials in Kearns, Utah, they don't plan to deviate from the routine that got them this far:
Train together every day, but, when it comes time to compete, keep their distance.
"We tend to stay out of each other's way," said John-Henry, 19, who is three years younger than Cole. "During racing, everyone can have a little more stress. We just focus on the competition."
The Krueger brothers, who began skating at the Airport Ice Arena in Moon under the watchful eye of their mother, Heidi, a professional figure skating coach, will compete in the 1,500-meter race at about 6 p.m. today -- followed by the 500-meter race at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and 1,000-meter race at noon Sunday.
Five skaters will qualify for the Sochi Winter Games. The qualifying process is as follows: The first-place finishers in each of the three events automatically qualify. The remaining spots will be filled based on the overall performance in the three events plus nine-lap and four-lap time trials.
John-Henry will be one of the youngest competitors in Utah this weekend, but he will be one of the favorites to advance to Sochi.
He has won at least one medal in each of the past three World Cup seasons, including a second-place finish in the 1,500-meter distance in November in Torino, Italy.
He has more Senior World Cup medals than any American skater other than J.R. Celski.
John-Henry and Celski were part of the 5,000-meter relay team that became the first U.S. team in the 16 years the World Cup has been in its current format to win the event in September in Shanghai.
Cole has made two Junior World Championship U.S. teams and finished as the highest-placing U.S. skater in both.
"I'm definitely feeling confident," Cole said. "I'm skating the best I've ever skated, peaking at the perfect time to really have a good chance."
J. Brady McCollough: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BradyMcCollough.