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U.S. Single Distance Champs notebook: Day 1

Celski, Smith earn top seeds; Trio tries to 'rally' supporters
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Three-time world medalist Jessica Smith got her season off on the right foot. -Getty Images

The speedskating season has officially begun with U.S. Single Distance Short Track Championships in Kearns, Utah, this weekend.

The event kicked off with time trials Thursday to determine seeding for the championship races that begin Friday afternoon.

The fastest man of the day was Olympian and world record-holder J.R. Celski. He finished first in the nine-lap time trial with a personal best of 1:23.087, two seconds ahead of runner-up Chris Creveling, who skated the course in 1:25.040. John-Henry Krueger was third with a time of 1:25:360. Creveling and Krueger skated in the same pair in the nine-lap time trial.

Celski was pleased with his performance but not satisfied.

"I was good," he said. "I just wanted to be more consistent out there. There are a few things I am working on and trying to execute them. I was happy with the time and hope to keep going uphill from there."

Celski was also fastest in the four-lap time trial with a time of 36.895. Keith Carroll slid into second with a time of 37.099, while Creveling was third (37.413).

On the ladies side, Jessica Smith was the fastest in both the nine-lap and four-lap time trials, skating the former in 1:30.885 and the latter in 39.961. She was the only woman to go under 40 seconds.

"I am excited about the upcoming season. Being an Olympic year makes the season a bit more exciting for me personally," Smith said. "It's an opportunity to showcase short track at its finest. I have been training hard, and I am looking forward to seeing what I am capable of."

Emily Scott (1:31.062) was second, while Alyson Dudek was third (1:31.759) in the nine-lap time trial. In the four-lap, they swapped places, Dudek coming in second (40.275) and Scott third (40.348).

The 1,500-meter championships begin Friday at 6 p.m. ET at the Utah Olympic Oval.

Will skate for food

Athletes in the National Racing Program (NRP) are putting a new twist on their hunger for gold. Last week, the group launched a RallyMe campaign asking supporters to help them pay for nutritious lunches. Dudek, Olympian Travis Jayner and long track skater Patrick Meek star in a video made by rallyme.com that explains why the aspiring 2014 Olympians need some help with lunch money.

The campaign explains that athletes are on the ice by 8 a.m. each morning, after which they participate in off-ice strength and conditioning workouts. Skating one lap on the Olympic Oval ice requires 413 calories per hour; the average Olympic hopeful skates more than 50 laps per day, 320 days a year. That means they burn 3,300 calories a day.

And when training is an athlete's full-time job, finding the kind of fuel that will ensure success can be difficult, so NRP officials are asking fans to contribute money to the "Feed the Speed" Rally campaign, even going so far as to offer swag to those who support the cause. The video of Dudek and Jayner chasing down Meek, who is dressed as a turkey, is available at https://www.rallyme.com/rallies/192.

Not just fans

Some family members aren't content to just cheer on their loved ones from the stands. Creveling's father is covering this week's competition for his hometown newspaper, while Celski's girlfriend, a former Canadian speedskater, is taking pictures of the event.

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