Peters Township’s Kruegers come up short in final gasp

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In the final race of the four-day U.S. Olympic Short Track Speed Skating Trials in Kearns, Utah, brothers John-Henry and Cole Krueger finished second and third, respectively, skating in just behind America’s best, J.R. Celski.

Their showing in the A final of the second 1,000-meter competition was a positive end to a disappointing weekend for these brothers from Peters Township, and, ultimately, it didn’t serve as much consolation. When the race began, they knew that they had been eliminated from contention for the Sochi Winter Games. And in the final few laps, it was obvious that Eduardo Alvarez, who finished second behind Celski in the overall classification standings, eased up because he already had earned a spot on the team.

But for John-Henry especially, the races Sunday were about showing people what could have been — had he not fallen Friday in each semifinal race in the 1,500-meter distance, or come down with swine flu later that night, keeping him out Saturday in the 500-meter races.

“It was really impressive,” Cole, 22, said of his brother. “He threw up for like three hours straight, he was in bed all day Saturday. He got an IV, and coming out [Sunday] there was not that much to race for, and he still made the A final. I think that shows that he probably would have made the team had he not been sick, because making the A final is difficult when you’re as sick as he is.”

John-Henry, 18, left the rink Sunday night, returned to the brothers’ Salt Lake City apartment and went straight to bed. It was an exhausting weekend.

Cole finished ninth in the overall classification standings, John-Henry 10th. It was not what they had imagined when they moved from Pittsburgh to Utah to train full time with coach Jae Su Chun.

Joining Celski and Alvarez on the U.S. team will be Chris Creveling, Kyle Carr and Jordan Malone. The women’s team will be Jessica Smith, Emily Scott and Alyson Dudek.

Amanda Trimble, 17, from Carnegie, finished in 16th in the overall classification standings.

The Krueger brothers now will turn their sights to the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

“We have to go back to the drawing board with our parents and our coaches and set up what the plan is for the next four years,” Cole said. “It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world, and it’s not the last chance we’ll ever have.”

Williams ninth in Germany

Lauryn Williams, a retired world-class sprinter turned bobsled Olympic hopeful from Rochester, Beaver County, finished in ninth place with driver Jazmine Fenlator in a World Cup race in Winterberg, Germany.

Williams, a brakewoman, and Fenlator placed third among American teams. Williams and hurdler Lolo Jones are among the six women left competing for three spots for Sochi.

The final two races of the qualifying process are next weekend in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and the weekend after in Igls, Austria. The team will be announced Jan. 19.

J. Brady McCollough: and on Twitter @BradyMcCollough.

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