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Speedskater Garcia OK after nasty fall at Olympic trials

September 13, 2009 |  8:51 pm

Maria Short track speedskater Maria Garcia of Carson was released from a hospital in Marquette, Mich., and flew home Sunday after suffering a bruised sternum and other bruises when she fell during the semifinals of the women's 500-meter race at the Olympic trials Saturday.

Garcia, a member of the 2006 Turin Olympics team, had crashed into the boards and was carried off on a stretcher. Robert Ahlke of the Southern California Speed Skating Assn. said by phone Sunday that Garcia was going to let her sore back heal before she flew home but decided she didn't want to be left behind alone.

"She's OK, just really, really sore," Ahlke said.

Unfortunately, the crash wiped out Garcia's chances of making the U.S. team for the Vancouver Games.

Earlier in the evening, skater J.R. Celski crashed in his 500-meter semifinal heat and cut his left leg with his right skate blade. He needed surgery, but U.S. Speedskating officials said Celski is expected to make a full recovery in time to compete in Vancouver.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Maria Garcia is tended to by the Team USA medical staff after crashing during the Olympic short track speedskating trials on Saturday. Credit: Carlos Osorio / Associated Press