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Celski secures first individual gold of season

Photo finish needed to put American on top of podium
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American J.R. Celski claimed the 1,500-meter crown with a time of 2:18.717 in the final. -Getty Images

Skaters competed toward the finals of the 1,500 and 500 meters Saturday at the 2013-14 World Cup Short Track series stop in Kolomna, Russia. This event serves as the second of two 2014 Olympic Winter Games qualifying competitions.

The ladies 1,500-meter final was won by Suk-Hee Shim of Korea for a second consecutive weekend, allowing her to clinch the World Cup title for the distance. Shim led for the bulk of the final race, with Valérie Maltais (Canada) and Yang Zhou (China) right behind her throughout. In the end, Maltais finished second while Zhou was third. In terms of the overall distance ranking, the second- and third-place finishers were Alang Kim (Korea) and Zhou.

The men's 1,500-meter final saw J.R. Celski of the United State take the victory, his first individual World Cup win of the season. Although Celski led the second half of the race, the win did not come easy, with Victor An (Russia) right on his heels. The final result required a photo-finish review to confirm Celski's win ahead of An. Thibaut Fauconnet of France finished in third place. Despite finishing in 11th position in Saturday's event, Charles Hamelin (Canada) earned enough points to clinch the World Cup title for the distance. Han-Bin Lee (Korea), who finished sixth, ended up in second place in the overall ranking for the distance, while An clinched third place.

The ladies 500-meter event was once again dominated by Meng Wang (China), who won her third consecutive 500-meter final this season. Her teammate, Kexin Fan, was a very close second, while Suk-Hee Shim finished third to earn her second podium finish of the day. The win allowed Wang to take back the lead and clinch the overall World Cup title for the distance, with Fan finishing second. Arianna Fontana (Italy), who finished 23rd in Saturday's event, concluded the World Cup series in third place overall.

On the men's side, the Russian fans were delighted to see a one-two finish for the home skaters: An, in his second podium finish of the day, finished first ahead of teammate Vladimir Grigorev. Dajing Wu (China) took third place. The win allowed An to regain the lead and clinch the World Cup distance title, while Hamelin, who came in just 16th Saturday, concluded the World Cup series in second place. The third-place rank went to Grigorev.