Sport: Short Track
Birthdate: May 22, 1982
Birthplace: Seattle, WA
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Residence: Salt Lake City, WA
Height/Weight: 5’8″ / 165 lbs
Olympics: 2006, 2002
Apolo Ohno is a five-time Olympic medalist with three in 2006 (gold, silver, bronze) and two in 2002 (gold, bronze). He needs two medals in Vancouver to pass Bonnie Blair as the most decorated American at the Winter Games. He won the reality show “Dancing with the Stars in 2007 during a post-Torino break from skating and has been the top American short track skater since 2001, winning every national title since then.
Three-time Olympian Apolo Ohno has been the top short-track skater in the United States since 2001, when he became the first American to win the overall World Cup, for the 2000-01 season. Ohno has since won the overall title twice more, in 2003 and 2005. He also has won five Olympic medals, two gold, tying speed skater Eric Heiden for the most career winter medals by a U.S. man. Ohno has at least one medal in each of the Olympic distances: gold in the 500m; silver and bronze in the 1000m; gold in the 1500m; and bronze in the 5000m relay. Ohno has won every national title since 2001, earning his 10th consecutive win in September 2009, and has 12 overall national titles.
Ohno became interested in short track at age 12, while watching the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Despite his late start, it took Ohno only two years to become the best short-track skater in the United States. At 14, after training under Pat Wetland in Lake Placid for just six months, Ohno claimed his first overall title at the U.S. Championships, becoming the youngest national champion ever. Ohno’s success made him a likely candidate to make the 1998 U.S. Olympic Team, but he struggled with his fitness after leaving the Lake Placid training center and finished 16th at the Olympic Trials.
After failing to make the 1998 Olympic team, Ohno, 15, had to decide whether to continue skating. Ohno’s father feared he would make a rash decision after the disappointment at Olympic Trials, and brought his son to a secluded cottage three hours northwest of Seattle. With no distractions from TV or telephone, Ohno passed the time by taking long runs. It was during one of his runs, when he stopped and sat on a rock in the pouring rain, that he realized he wanted to continue skating.
Ohno was raised by his father, Yuki Ohno, who owns a Seattle hair salon called Yuki’s diffusion. Yuki was the driving force behind Apolo’s skating career, driving him to competitions and encouraging him to push himself. Yuki also persuaded his then-14-year-old son to move to Lake Placid in 1996 to train under Pat Wentland. Apolo was initially not pleased about the move, and skipped his flight to New York after Yuki dropped him off at the airport. Apolo had called friends to pick him up, and he remained with them for a week, until Yuki was able to talk him into it. Yuki then accompanied Apolo on the flight to Lake Placid, and personally dropped him off with Wentland.