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Category: Katherine Reutter

Cho wins 500, joins Reutter as world short track leader


For the first time in 35 years, the United States has the overall leaders going into the final day of the World Short Track Speedskating Championship.

Simon Cho of Laurel, Md., moved into the men's lead by winning the 500 meters Saturday in Sheffield, England.  At 19, in his first world championships, Cho became the youngest U.S. skater to win a world gold medal.

"I'm surprised, excited, enthusiatic, exhausted and proud to represent the United States,'' Cho said via telephone as he rode back from the rink to the team hotel.

Katherine Reutter of Champaign, Ill., maintained her lead in the overall standings after failing to make the 500-meter final by a couple inches Saturday.

Reutter, who won the 1,500 on Friday, was in second for four of the five laps in the semifinal before China's Li Jianrou beat her to the finish by seven thousandths of a second.  Only the top two advanced.

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Katherine Reutter, Shani Davis strike gold for U.S. speedskating

Here's the long and short of it:

This was a golden day for the biggest current U.S. star in each of speedskating's two disciplines, long and short track.

For Shani Davis, it was more of the same.  The 1,000-meter gold in the World Single Distances Championships at Inzell, Germany, was the third of Davis' career at that distance and sixth overall in the long track meet. 

Shani1000 For Katherine Reutter, it was a first.  And the 1,500-meter gold she won in Sheffield, England, also was the first by a U.S. woman at the World Short Track Championships since Bonnie Blair a quarter century ago. 

That both Reutter and Blair are from Champaign, Ill., has inevitably led to comparisons, and Reutter does not shy from being likened to one of her sport's legendary athletes, even if Blair is better known for her long track exploits.

"It's kind of funny how people are comparing me to Bonnie -- not that it isn't deserved pretty much,'' Reutter said via telephone from England.

Davis, a Chicagoan, keeps adding to his deserved status as one of the legendary athletes in the sport.

He now has won two Olympic gold medals and the three single distance titles in the 1,000.  Friday, despite a big slip on one turn, he clocked 1 minute 8.45 seconds to beat Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands by .22.

"It was a great step in the right direction from the day before,'' Davis said in a statement from U.S. Speedskating.

Thursday, Davis had missed a fourth title at 1,500 by just four-hundredths of a second. 

"After an objective evaluation last night on the 1,500, Shani was able to execute some of the things he had been missing in his skating,'' U.S. Coach Ryan Shimabukuro said.  "You really got to see Shani skating like himself today.''

Reutter wound up skating the 1,500 exactly the opposite of how she planned.

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Philip Hersh: Winning again, Katherine Reutter nears historic skate titles

A month before the 2010 Olympics, Katherine Reutter's coach told me the Champaign, Ill., athlete had been "the most improved skater in the world'' over the previous three years.

"The next time [2014 Olympics], Katherine may be unbeatable,'' Jae Su Chun said.

Reutter, 22, appears to be getting to that point even sooner.

She now is the top-ranked short track speedskater in the world overall and leads the World Cup season standings in both the 1,000 and 1,500 meters with just one meet to go.  No U.S. woman has ever won a season title on the short track circuit.

Sunday, she won the 1,000 meters at the World Cup meet in Moscow.  It was her second win of the season at that distance.

KR Reutter, who earned silver and bronze medals at the 2010 OIympics, also has won three of the four 1,500s she has raced, including Saturday's in Moscow. "To go from where I was to where I am now is a huge accomplishment,'' Reutter said a year ago.

She was 68th in the world in 2007, ninth in 2008, 10th in 2009, third last year.

When I did a long interview with Reutter a year ago, she wasn't shy about expressing her desire to be even more than a champion.

"I want to be the best there ever was in this sport,'' she said. "It's not about winning a gold medal but getting so good I can dominate a race every time.''

Sunday, when Simon Cho of Upper Marlboro, Md., won the 500, and Travis Jayner of Midland, Mich., got bronze in the 1,000, Reutter wanted to talk more about the performance of the U.S. team than her own. (Jayner also won silver in Saturday's 1,500.)

"Being part of this team the past week has been an absolute pleasure and privilege,'' she said. "Seeing how we are all progressing throughout the season ... we are in a great place heading into next weekend [the final World Cup meet] and the [March] World Championships.

"I hope for the first team we can continue to peak all season long.''

Reutter had hip surgery last spring. By November, when the World Cup season began, she had regained winning form.

Her victories at the start of the season got an asterisk because the turmoil-ridden South Korean team, traditional world leaders in short track, did not compete in those World Cup meets. But there were Koreans among the medalists in Moscow -- the silver and bronze medalists behind Reutter.

--Philip Hersh
Photo: Katherine Reutter celebrating her 2010 Olympic silver medal. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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