Ohno practices for first time since race mishap

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY -- Apolo Anton Ohno skated Monday for the first time since cutting his left leg in a spectacular short-track crash that probably cost him a gold medal.

Ohno was the last American to take the ice for the one-hour, 15-minute workout, clambering over the boards in a red helmet. He skated slowly at first, staying inside the black lane markers while his teammates zipped around.

Ohno wore a bandage under his skin suit to cover six stitches in his thigh.

"He looked great," U.S. coach Susan Ellis said. "He's in good spirits."

Ohno was cut by his own skate when four of five skaters collided and fell on the last lap of the 1,000 meters Saturday night. He staggered across the line to claim the silver.

During practice at the Salt Lake Ice Sports Complex, Ohno briefly left the ice to remove the wrap that covered the bandage because it was irritating him.

"Today wasn't a 100 percent day. It wasn't a day to go fast. It was just a day to loosen up," Ellis said. "I think he'll be bang-on for Wednesday night. I don't see any problems."

Ohno's next race is the 1,500 meters. He'll need to advance through two rounds to reach the final -- one of three remaining events where he is favored to win a medal.

"It's not a top-speed race," Ellis said. "It's not a race where you have to do a really fast start and a lot of sprinting."

Ohno was leading the 1,000 when he and three other skaters collided and fell. He landed on his back, skidded to the side of the track and bounced off the boards. But he was able to get up and scramble the final 10 yards to finish behind surprise gold medalist Steven Bradbury of Australia.

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