Kearns • As she prepared for the final day of trials at the Utah Olympic Oval, Jessica Kooreman had to wonder.

Is this it? Is it over?

Kooreman, 34, had struggled through the first of two days of the U.S. short-track speed skating trials and knew going into Sunday that there was only one spot still open, one chance to get back to the Olympics.

By the end of the day, as she drenched her teammates with sparkling wine on the ice, Kooreman could finally relax.

“This was probably one of the most stressful competitions of my entire career, to say the least,” she said. “Nothing like leaving it until the very end, the very last race.”

Kooreman, of Melvindale, Mich., was one of three U.S. skaters on Sunday to punch their tickets to Pyeongchang, South Korea, as the United States’ short-track team was finalized. Ryan Pivirotto, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Thomas Hong, of Laurel, Md., clinched the final two spots on the men’s short-track team.

“I’m super happy to finally qualify for the Olympic team,” the 20-year-old Hong said. “This was a dream years in the making. I’m just proud to be here.”

They will join U.S. skaters J.R. Celski (Federal Way, Wash.), Aaron Tran (Federal Way, Wash.), John-Henry Krueger (Pittsburgh), Maame Biney (Reston, Va.) and Lana Gehring (Glenview, Ill.) in Pyeongchang in February.

“It’s a great team,” U.S. coach Anthony Barthell said. “The team we’re going with is an extremely strong team.”

Pittsburgh’s John-Henry Krueger completed his weekend sweep, taking first place in the 500-, 1,000-, and 1,500-meter races.

“John-Henry’s been a talent ready to be unleashed,” Barthell said, “and he did it this weekend.”

Celski, the three-time Olympic medalist, qualified for a spot on the team Saturday but struggled throughout the weekend with equipment issues that caused multiple crashes. Nevertheless, Celski performed well enough to qualify for the both the 1,000- and 1,500-meter races.

Perhaps no skater, though, was feeling more pressure Sunday than Kooreman.

A fourth-place finisher in Sochi in 2014, Kooreman needed a strong Sunday to earn a trip to her second Olympic games. She won the first 1,000-meter final of the day and put herself within striking distance of earning the final roster spot with a win in her second semifinal race Sunday. But when she was taken out and crashed into the padding at the oval in her second final, Kooreman again had to wonder if her dream of getting back to the Olympics was over.

Kooreman picked herself up off the ice and finished in the third place, good enough for the final women’s spot.

“I went to battle this whole entire week and I fought through everything that came my way. Every challenge,” Kooreman said. “This definitely challenged me going into the end of the my career. I didn’t know if it was going to be over today, or if it was going to be over after Korea.

“Now I get to finish my career where I wanted to.”

U.S. short-track skating Olympic team


John-Henry Krueger, Pittsburgh

J.R. Celski, Federal Way, Wash.

Aaron Tran, Federal Way, Wash.

Thomas Hong, Laurel, Md.

Ryan Pivirotto, Ann Arbor, Mich.


Maame Biney, Reston, Va.

Lana Gehring, Glenview, Ill.

Jessica Kooreman, Melvindale, Mich